High One, Just-as-High, and Third

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This week’s homework assignment  (besides continuing Our Troth Vol. 1) is to dive into the Prose Edda, particularly the Gylfaginning, to consider  the idea of The High One, Just-as-High, and Third in the context of my post The Lore and The One. I am curious to explore the idea that this tripartite aspect of Odin might be extended as a framework which in corporates The Axis (adopting Hendrix’s term over that of the jazz culture just because, well, I can), the Æsir and Vanir, and lasty the jontun, alfs, disir and vættir. Three is a sacred number throughout Indo-European culture, as my reading tells me, and for the our eldritch as well. It is not just a leftover scrap of my trinitarian religious upbringing, but rather something the Church took from IE culture to explain their divinity in non-Arian terms.

I am posting this publicly as I know my trusty Steward will have some thoughts, and I invite others to speak what you think of the idea as I read and meditate upon it.I will likely take my question to Odin, as he is much on my mind as I read his chapter in Our Troth with the crows calling lustily outside. That is my other burning concern: what my relationship as poet and writer from inspiration should be with the Alfather. This latter is a question I approach with some trepidation and eyes wide open

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5 thoughts on “High One, Just-as-High, and Third

  1. Read the tail of Odin and his two brothers slaying Ymir and building the world from the parts of his corpse.

    Read the tail of Odin and his two brothers building the first two humans from driftwood.

    Compare the names. Different names. Does that mean One Eye has more than two brothers? Does that mean that The Traveler’s brothers have as many names as he does? Does that mean the names were selected for the expediency of poetic forms?

    Thanks for noticing that the Christians inherited triple deity from the pan-IE ways. Also remember there’s a feedback loop here – Snorri was a Christian monk who wrote that our deities were humans. It’s a strange bracketing of some sort. He probably had no idea of that fact of history though.

    Is his depiction of three aspects a Christian import, a way to make the elder tales less problematic to Christians, something he got from surviving ur-heathens? I don’t think we can ever know.

    It’s one of those topics that make me go hmm, hmm, hmm. Because three times after all!

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  2. I have just dived into Gylfaginning (remember I started with the Poetic Edda first) at the same time I am devouring Our Troth Vol. 1. I already have a hella lot of (sometimes contradictory from page to page) highlights about the three and the Alfather “[who] lives from everlasting to everlasting” and the tree “its branches spread over all the world, and reach up above heaven” (above, mind you) and “Green forever it stands.” This is much already in Snorri that points toward something like my pre-Heathenry monist world view. I just need to assemble it all into a cogent argument, which will take time as other sources must be considered, particularly the elder Poetic Edda, given Snorri’s conflicted intent. I also find the passage interesting: where the many names of the Alfather are explained, “so all people…ought to turn his name into their tongue…”.

    The tree everlasting and reaching *above* heaven and the idea that the Alfather is known by names appropriate to a people’s tonge both seem to support my pre-heathen view transferred to the heathen cosmos. More once I’ve gotten through teh Prose Edda, and reconsidered the elder sources that might contradict it. Still, why would Snorri introduce a trinitarian Alfather? What Christian purpose does it serve, except perhaps to support conversion (think of St. Patrick and his clover) but he is writing post-conversion. So many half-answered mystery, in the face of which one of my temperament is going to try to fill in the blanks from a pre-existing (but post-Xian) point of view.

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  3. I figure Snorri included commentary that our deities were humans so as to not be labelled a heretic and burn at the stake.

    I figure his Christian viewpoint comes through in his writings. It’s not that he wants to impose a monist approach onto heathenry. It’s that he takes a monist approach and has no idea that’s a limited approach that didn’t really work in the heathen times a few centuries prior to his life.

    When teasing out Snorri’s Christian influence we’re left wondering what he did deliberately, what he did because he could not imagine otherwise and how much heathenry had wandered towards a monotheism that looks like Hindu. I think the Hindu wandering toward monotheism was caused by contact with the monthiests.

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  4. Snorri strikes me as such a mixed bag. Clearly when he posits heavens above heaven that are where all the happy people go and survive Ragnarok, he’s putting something in that’s probably not supported anywhere else. That Yggdrasill has branches reaching higher than Heaven (Asgard), and survives Ragnarok with Humans 2.0 (I forget their names at this point), he open up a path for a monistic (but not monotheistic; there’s a difference). I’m looking for clues that I will (or won’t) find something that jibes with my prior monistic beliefs. They don’t have to be there. It’s personal gnosis; always has been before I found my way to you. Finding supportive bits here and there would be bonus, but are not necessary to my deep-seated cosmological view, and the Gods are still there either way. He clearly seems to be trying to put Odin into a Zeus/Jupiter box with a Xian ribbon of trinitarianism. I’ll have to go back and find the line that suggests that the high god will survive Ragnarok I have highlighted somewhere, but then he also make Odin the highest of gods and Odin we know (and Snorri knows) doesn’t survive. As I sit her typing I wonder if he is trying to inject a monist belief into the lore, in an attempt to ease the bridge from polytheism to monotheism. As good a theory as any. If there is an overarching force by which Yggdrasill survives and Helheim survives, then there’s clearly an opening for him to posit things which were not in the Eddas in his text glosses. Then again, the fact that the World Tree and Helheim survive tells me there is something higher yet than High, Most High and Third, higher than Asgard, (though probably without Snorri’s Xianized three heavens). I’m through the non-poetic part of the Prose Edda and need to go back to the Elder (while reading Our Troth), looking for evidence of how specific things play out pre-creation and post-Ragnarok in the earlier texts.

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  5. Surviving Ragnarok gets us to another level. Look at the beings who emerged from the Gingungap. A cow and an asexual giant. Look at the fact that the Gingungap was fire meeting ice to create dynamic balance. Look at the fact that Ragnarok will be fire meeting ice to wipe out this world and create the next dynamic balance. Look at the fact that the ones who survive are a man and woman.

    All sorts of implications about the cyclical/helical nature of time that does not exist in the Christian model, in our evolutionary target to become more like our deities, in noticing that those who go to Valhalla and Nifl get consumed in the battle so what happens to those who go elsewhere? Snorri does not appear to have noticed any of that at all.

    Remember that belief is required by the Christians not by us. They invented the idea that belief is required; many calling that a mind control strategy. We get to believe anything we want or nothing at all. We are our deeds not our beliefs. As such when looking for beliefs you set yourself up to be puzzled.

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