“Hugin and Munin fly each day over the spacious earth. I fear for Hugin, that he come not back, yet more anxious am I for Munin.” ~ 1866 Benjamin Thorpe in Edda Sæmundar Hinns Frôða “The Lay of Grimnir” 1883 Gudbrand Vigfusson in Corpus Poeticum Boreale “The Sayings of the Hooded One”
This post, we will learn the importance of thought and memory. With this knowledge we can change the direction of our wyrd and create links to our ancestral past (which is never lost) as thought and memory are profound aspects of our soul that we need to more effectively utilize to truly understand the self, as well as the world around us-both seen and unseen. This information can lead to a new, deeper understanding as well as clear direction. Moreover, by participating in rituals that we ourselves invent, then in turn memorize, (like our monthly Utiseta journey’s we perform after watching the full moon while thinking on it as a link with one’s ancestors) we can gain deeper, wider insights (thought) that opens up our soul to become more and more aware of the energies that surrounds us: from the other nine worlds-to the physical place to which we belong. (Remember, the land you inhabit is not only the material world but a magical link to the concepts, runes, and powers left to us in the annuls of ancestral wisdom!)
Through Thought and Memory, we can reconnect with the Gods and Goddesses, Wights, our own ancestral dead, as well as the landvættir. By reawakening them through memory and thoughts, we can call on them to support our work and thus change the wyrd of ourselves, our loved ones, and the world at large. Thought and Memory strengthen our souls in such a powerful way we can actually determine our direction and destiny in the world. Those things that you were made to believe were memories of ‘superstition’ are the very things that bring forth the memories of the essence of Heathenry in all its forms, as well as the magic of our ancestors. Our work to recover this magical heritage has much possibility for astounding success; you simply need to accept to use your mind. What we are trying to reclaim is not won by sentimentality and wishful thinking, but by staying focused and effective in this modern world. This soul-work is of paramount importance; and it begins with our thoughts and our memories of understanding.
For this soul part the best explanation I have found is via the book Elhaz Ablaze: A Compendium of Chaos Heathenry, by Henry Lauer. which states:
“The Hughr is in many ways the structuring, analytical, investigative, observing faculty, mostly identified with the intellect. The Myne (minni) represents the imaginative, visionary, intuitive part of the Soul that brings forth images, symbols, symbols, signs, patterns, feelings, and omen-like occurrences. The Hughr and Myne are of course Odin’s two ravens Huginn and Muninn. Ian Read calls the Wode, Hughr, and Myne the core-triad. This is so because all three must be developed in a careful and balanced way so that the runic learning can happen in a holistic process without bringing imbalance to the psyche. Too much Wode will simply consume you, your everyday personality won’t be able to handle the overwhelming ‘information,’ and psychosis or worse would be the result. An overdeveloped Hughr will make you question everything – the typical academic – or you simply will accumulate a lot of knowledge that you can’t put into action; the armchair scholar or the book learning occultist who knows everything in theory but nothing in reality. If the Myne is overdeveloped and the Hughr is undeveloped one will be confronted with endless images and patterns that will lose coherence. The result in most cases is the occult ‘master of the astral planes’ or the New Age dolphin channeler, who flies off into cuckoo fairy tale land, seeing everywhere coincidences, secret messages, and magic at work without being able to manifest any real results. So, in a nutshell: The core-triad needs to be developed harmoniously for the seeker to have a meaningful learning process.”
This work it is important you not only come to understand how you view these crucial soul parts you house within you; but it’s imperative you learn to hon them and use them wisely. If you haven’t already begun to do so, being selective on what you fill your mind with in your free time (music, media, literature, news, etc..) ensures you aren’t taking up valuable ‘head space’ with all things frivolous or perhaps even damaging to your thinking/remembering process.
There are other descriptions I found that have a similar take; so please see: https://norse-mythology.org/gods-andcreatures/others/hugin-and-munin/ http://oldeuropeanculture.blogspot.com/2015/10/th e-riddle-of-odins-ravens.html https://www.norsegodsasatru.net/soul-andafterlife.html
As discussed above there are varying views to the true meaning of Muninn’s name, and as the name can’t be clearly defined via old Norse; (there are folks who think the name means memory, and others who think it means mind) I hold the idea it means both. You see in Icelandic the name Muninn actually means ‘difference’ (there is no old Norse reference to that name) and knowing the Norse held great weight in the naming process, I discovered from the University of Texas in Austin Linguistics research center the old Norse word for remember is: muna; and according to UOT it means: “To think or have thoughts, one must remember the data being received, as well as have the abilities to process and analyze the new information; thereby using their mind in conjunction with past informational data to compare it with.”
When Odin sent his Two Ravens out to do his bidding, he sent out an extension of himself (his mind- Hughr) to gain any obscure information that might aid Odin in his quest for ‘all knowing.’ Upon return, Huginn and Muninn would share all they found via the duel analytical process that make us uniquely human: our thoughts (self-awareness) and our memory (comparing past events for relevance and decision making)
For Odin’s furtherment in knowing all, He knew the best tools for the job would be to send the parts of his mind that could discern/recognize any new information, (think) as well as retrieve/bring back (remember) whatever new insights were to be found. ~Our Norse Ancestors were very clever, and it seems obvious to me by the very names Odin used for the bird forms he send forth as his minds representative’s; since to be able to remember what was learned would be of paramount importance to fulfilling “all-knowing” aspirations!
As you know by now, Odin had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and would go to great lengths to obtain it. Odin is a profoundly mystical, magical, and mysterious deity that represents Consciousness via Will, Knowing and Ordeal. Only those who are prepared (a.k.a. to have strong Will via Knowing) to go through the same trials and ordeals as He did can truly know Him. Many might profess that they worship Odin and call themselves Odinists or Ásatrúar heathens, however I have come to find they only worship the archetypal Christian ‘father figure’ Yahweh dressed up in Norse clothing sporting a missing eye. When one truly meets Odin, they quickly come to see He is not a God for the sheep-like many, but for the brave (foolhardy?) few. This is evident in the fact that in Scandinavia when they actually Worshiped Odin as they knew him, places and things were not abundantly named after Him, like the other ‘salt-of-the-earth-peoples Patron Gods; namely Thor and Freyr, who were much more accessible and understandable to the daily lives of most ‘common’ Folk. Odin historically was never a popular God. To assume that today, he is suddenly every heathen’s “All Father” is to deny the Odin is deep, resolved, and can be cruel, grim, and deceitful. Odin is a God of magicians and Shamans, so to simply place his image over the Christian God is to not know Odin at his very core: To ever seek to know more, as Knowledge is Power.
Odin’s favorite tools for seeking ‘all knowing’ was sending forth two ravens as his intercessors to all the nine worlds, which were His very thought and memory. These two messengers are our next souls’ parts to come to understand, (which in actuality aren’t really ravens) they are components of Hugr; the mind.
The Ravens of Odin were Huginn (the thought) and Muninn (the mind). They would fly all over the world bringing Odin information and news, making Odin the original entity of the Norse Pantheon to recruit familiars. (He was a Shaman after all!) His association with these birds gave him the name (one many!) of “Raven-Lord.”
Above I state Odin was a Shaman, and this fact when understood, is crucial to sperate his way of doing things apart from any other God in the Norse pantheon. (Even Loki) Excepting the notion Odin was “the father of Norse Shamans” in and of itself explains MUCH about Odin and his personality. Scholars have linked Odin’s relationship with (and use of) Huginn and Muninn to other indigenous people’s shamanic practices by using animals as their “fetch”.
The Ravens represent Odin’s ability to send forth his “thought” and “mind” out into the world, projecting his will and influence from afar. John Lindow,,a professor emeritus (University of California, Berkeley) specializing in Scandinavian medieval studies and folklore; whose works include Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Rituals, and Beliefs, a handbook for Norse mythology relates Odin’s ability to send his “thought” (Huginn) and “mind” (Muninn) to the trance-state journey of shamans. Lindow says: “the Grímnismál stanza where Odin worries about the return of Huginn and Muninn “would be consistent with the danger that the shaman faces on the trance-state journey when the mind and its thoughts become the vehicle of the Shamans soul.”
In Odin’s very name we see Wode, or Óðr, stands for the ecstatic, divine, inspired part of the Soul, and is one of the nine-fold soul parts, eternal and immortal. Most of our life we are unaware of Óðr and normally we only become conscious of it for very short moments, experiencing only glimpses of it, which in most cases are triggered by circumstances we are unable to purposely recreate. -Some individuals certainly experience Divine inspiration in overwhelming ways through the use of extreme situations; like hallucinogenic drugs, sex, or excruciating pain or loss; but I have found, personally, by cultivating a strong Will, gaining much knowledge, and via thought and memory Óðr can also be accessed when sought out.
*NOTE! There lies a danger for those who think that ONLY the drugs/sex/pain/trauma make the experience happen of Óðr happen. They stop looking in normal and accessible places for inspiration and mystical information not understanding extreme situations act as cataclysmic gate-openers to those realms of the Soul or Consciousness. These realms exist independently and can in truth be accessed without any of the above-mentioned outer means.
Control the thoughts and hone the memory is much of this work. Once you can control your ravens, you are much like Odin, as you come to understand your Óðr, via Önd.
You will see I speak MUCH about Óðr. Why? Because to truly be a Völva and seiðkona, we must come to know, recognize, and access Óðr to be successful in our magical endeavors. The aim must obviously be to cultivate this part of the Soul and to be able to stay aware of it, so that it can lead oneself towards higher truths and deeper mysteries, as well as power and adeptness. You see, Asatru and Heathenry as a Religious practice and not so much a spiritual one can be confusing at times, since not every heathen is involved with occult activity we deem ‘magic or mysticism.’ I am discovering often times, neither active Asatru Kindred practitioners nor the serious Scandinavia academia students ever touch on, nor give validation to, the ecstatic, spiritual/mystic aspect of Norse paganism or Indo-European worship, (the arts of the Völva or seiðr) and I must ponder as to why. I believe some of the reasoning comes from the idea that Norse Paganism was revived at the turn of this century, when many people were becoming dissatisfied by the emptiness that Christianity and other monotheist religions offered them. Remember, monotheist faiths have been THE ruling spirituality worldwide for over 1500 years, and that means the dogma and deep ideologies have been ingrained into countless generations of people for a long enough time span that it unconsciously created a rift within the newly developing Pagan Heathen community where it comes to occult Arts and practices, ~as well as it has influenced the interpretations of some of the meanings and what teachings we have discovered within ancient lore and Mythology. ( i.e. a Volva isn’t/wasn’t a witch.)
What this means to me is although instinctually people know there is more to our spiritual lives than ‘one truth’ which is ingrained thinking; it’s hard for some to supersede that stunted mindset that unfortunately accompanies us when we leave the spiritual teachings of our childhood. Most folks for centuries believed that esoteric practices and the occult were dangerous waters best left unchartered, and that its participants were crazy, zealots or delusional. Unfortunately, this mindset still follows some who come to Asatru today.
For many Heathens right now, understanding the occult veneration of the Old Norse cosmology is limited. Moreover, most modern day Heathens keep to acknowledging and revering a scant few Gods and Goddess’s of Norse mythology and it seems many 21st century Asatru followers (perhaps unknowingly) have chosen to view the most well-known God (Odin) as a substitution role to the Arabic Gods of Judaism/Christianity/Muslim faiths, keeping alive the mindset that Divinity is one-dimensional and unknowable. Furthermore I have begun to realize because of the generational conditioning of today’s people by these ‘only one truth’ religions which has had such a negative and limiting impact on their spiritual development as children; Odin is seen only as the Wise, untouchable All-Father, and that this very humanized Divine Being is removed from people, human happenings, and the goings on here in Midgard. Sadly, many Asatru followers don’t know or acknowledge Odin’s primary role as a Magician and ecstatic Shaman, nor do they realize/accept that a Norse mystic’s abilities and basal spirituality hinge on the ability to actually work with Odin in this aspect.
Moreover the idea (I feel is due to lack of participation in the ecstatic/occult side of Asatru) pervades in heathenism today is that Odin and the Other Gods care not for us, nor do they have a interest in accompanying us on our lives journey.
I have heard repeated Heathens say they feel the Norse Gods are simply there doing whatever it is Gods do, and we mere mortals are to simply struggle along in Midgard, doing whatever it is we do-abandoned by the Gods because that’s what it appears like if you don’t believe the notion The Gods do and can be very interested in the affairs of men.
So, when a Volva who is driven by Óðr begins discussing their practices of esoteric work and the involvement of Gods, Wights, and Dead Folk as working, real allies with other non-mystical Heathens; sometimes a Volva or a Vitki (as well as seiðr practitioners) can fall into a firestorm of ridicule due to the fact they practice Ecstatic Norse Occultism, and the “cerebral-only” Heathen does not. “UPG!!” is thrown about like its a swear word, and by doing this, there then becomes a dividing rift within this reclaiming process of this ancient path; as now the Volva’s whose “inspired” practice of seiðr are (through their ecstatic occult work) discovering that Odin is MUCH more than the limiting “Jehovah” replacement; and everything about Odin is esoteric, occult and ecstatic.
How do I know this? By the very things that help us create ‘magic’ in the first place: Önd and Óðr. THE essence of Odin. There has always been arguments in the study of Norse religion between those who feel veneration of the Gods in “typical cerebral fashion”(via reading and study with occasional blots and seasonal rites) VS the ecstatic practices with the occult side of heathenism (i.e. Volva’s seiðr and spa); are incompatible -thereby causing discord within the Asatru community due to Norse mystics use of ecstatic practices like trance work, possession and esoteric techniques which rely very much on each practitioners ability to interrupt images and messages via personal gnosis. The cerebral Heathen gets angry because they feel the person who is doing ecstatic Asatru is somehow dis-respecting the Gods, or worse; making a mockery of Norse Mythology. Most Volva’s/Vitki’s I know use primarily the information found in the Lore combined with person gnosis; especially the accounts of the little Volva, or Voluspa. These sets of prose tells us how the Volva has the ability to interact with Odin; and that he actually sought her out for knowledge.
However, any remaining information is very vague, so the Volva or Vitki must then take a leap of faith to know more and surrender to the idea of becoming an open vessel for the Önd and Óðr Odin might bestow upon them after much diligence, dedication and work. It requires the Volva/vitki to become ‘intimate” with the Beings of the Norse cosmology, and this included the Gods. The metaphysical side of Asatru can only be understood by those who are actual practitioners, and not everyone (most actually) has the ability to be a Volva or Vitki, and not every Volva/Vitki can do seiðr. I have found to understand this path of esoteric, ecstatic religion, one must have the ability to be open to what the Norse call Óðr, (it means “mind”, “soul” or “spirit” -so used in stanza 18.1 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá. In addition, óðr can also mean “song”, “poetry” and “inspiration”, and it has connotations of “possession”. It is derived from a Proto-Germanic *wōð- or *wōþ- and it is related to Gothic wôds [“raging”, “possessed”], and in being open to Óðr, everything from simple rune casting to healing work is accessible to the Völva or Vitki.
I feel that Óðr is Odin’s gift to us to reach higher planes of existence, via visions, dreams and spa. These are THE very arts of the Volva; and many people can’t (nor shouldn’t) aspire to immerse themselves into the Norse mystical arts; simply because they don’t have the ability to surrender to Óðr. Mysticism exists because the Divine exists (within and around us), and a human being is capable of touching the limitless via Önd.
More than that: a Norse Pagan can be an ecstatic being, but until Óðr is deciphered and visited by each individual seið worker; they will never fulfill their complete potential until they experience states of Higher Consciousness. Transformation and ecstasy, illumination and inspiration, creativity and Selfexploration, meditation and world(s)-expeditions, these are at the core of Norse mysticism, which – according to the myths of our forefathers and foremothers – is a Gift of the God who Himself represents these qualities: Óðinn, Woden, or Wotan, via Önd~which in Old Norse, means “mind, wit, soul, sense”, and is the agency of breath.