In an attempt to eliminate a series of recurring dreams, I said to Sitting Pugs that perhaps I should hang upside down and count to 10. Pugs noted my reference was quite Nordic. She pointed me to Yggdrasil, a massive ash tree key to Norse mythology. Yggdrasil means “Odin’s horse.” The tree encompasses the nine worlds. The main god Odin sacrificed himself to himself by hanging on the tree, in order to die a spiritual death and gain the wisdom of the runes, or that of the nine worlds. During this time, his spear continuously pierced him and he had no access to food or water. The story is recounted in the poem Hávamál:
I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run
The story brought up a number of parallels in my mind, most notably the anime series Shoujo Kakumei Utena where the Rose Bride is sacrificed time and time again by the reigning Duellist in an attempt to “revolutionize the world.” There are the swords which have pierced and attacked the Rose Bride; there is the sword that she holds in her own heart for the Duellist. Further, a translation for Ragnarok, one of the worlds the tree holds, is “the end of the world” which is also what one of the power-holding characters in Utena reveals himself to be. There are also parallels to other mythologies, including the Grail myth and the Fisher King as well as Crucifixion in Christianity and tree worship as the Christmas tree; however, for this I will defer to Frazer’s The Golden Bough. Further, there are the descents of Persephone and Ishtar to the underworld. In particular, the latter goddess travels through the seven levels of hell to release her husband, whom she had sent there in the first place.
The Norse myth led me to wonder what is my equivalent? What tangible thing can I do for nine nights to excise myself of the dreams? Pugs suggested altering my general outlook or doing something that puts me out of my comfort zone mentally or emotionally. I was searching for something concrete: verses to write, hats and belts to accentuate my outfits, waking up earlier. Perhaps for once there is nothing specific that I need to do. Perhaps this is an era I am obligated to go through. Perhaps I just need to let myself have the dreams rather than fight them– two opinions have suggested that they simply appear to be brought on by stress in other areas of my life. I am no longer too worried.
Maybe it will take longer than nine nights, but at some point, I’ll come down from the tree, I’ll return from the underworld, and I’ll be ever more the wiser.