Heartcleft road – Gna’s Story part 4

Posted: September 10, 2014 in Aesir & Asynjur, Alfar & Duergar, Deities & Wights, Gna
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Fallow deer in field.jpg
Fallow deer in field” by Johann-Nikolaus Andreae –  Wikimedia Commons.

Part 4 : Dreams of Yggdrasil –

Cold. I was so cold, and a mere quilted coat with breeches were insufficient. My skin felt like it was nothing more than a shell over the trapped fury of the Winds inside me, clamoring to break free. I wouldn’t last much longer, the quiet of non-existence was starting to sound appealing.

Something poked me in the ribs and I opened my eyes. A stag’s antlers? What was a deer doing in the Void Between? He was magnificent, his chestnut-colored coat almost iridescent, dappled with pale spots, eyes a deeper blue than any ocean’s – and he was staring at me.

As the fog fled from his form, I noticed symbols the size of a walnut slowly orbiting around him. Their thin lines bled yellow light as if the very air had been cut, wounds leaking potential into our world. It took a moment for my nearly frozen brain to realize they were runes, just not Odin’s runes.

When Allfather’s terrible spell had opened the door to the utter darkness of Ginnungagap, to seek and master the rune-spirits, two score of them came into his grasp as he hung on the tree Yggdrasil. Yet more had come to Dvalin among dwarves, Dain amid elves, Asvid of the giants, and Duneyr for humans. Squinting, mind churning as I hugged myself, I finally recognized these as the Alfar runes, taught only to those of our blood.

Holy Gods! This was one of the Stags, the Deer of the Four Winds[1] that roamed and ruled this place! I swallowed hard. While they did not interfere in our fates as the Norns did, their power was no less. Gods were well justified in fearing the Stags and we did our best to avoid them.

What, he asked, are you doing here? His voice was deep and resonated from inside my chest.

“I’m… dying, I think.”

You think you’re dying?

“No, I’m pretty sure I’m dying,” I said with a slight smirk. I had nothing left to lose. Why should I fear him ? “Wait a few more minutes and you can watch it happen. I bet you don’t see a Goddess Fade in the Void every day. I promise it will be a good show.”

I tried to laugh, but it came out more as a chuckle and cough. Did I really have to be a smart-ass to the end? Of course I did, especially if I could have an audience, a witness to my passing. Not that a Stag would tell anyone, but I would take what I could get.

Unacceptable, he said as his eyes ignited into golden flames.

“What?” I said with a huff. “I’m sorry about dying on your turf, but I didn’t get much choice about it. I can’t get into Midgard and I can’t go back to Asgard. So if you’re going to punish me for trespassing, go ahead. There is nothing left to take from me.”

He turned his head, ears perking up. No. Blame the right way to resist indeed. For five ways in categories unseen, each has blamed the other even to the point of persecution. True that soup has not boiled, it cannot be helped. Shouldering the reds in swimming across time’s last gasp, essence comes calling, and its name does not sound. Veer aboard which coating of glue resists nominations of glory.

“Say what?” I shook my head, perplexed. I’d heard the four Deer were unfathomable, dealing with subtle matters of universal scope beyond the understanding of most Gods, but this just sounded like insane ramblings.

He lowered his head and it felt like he was gazing deep into my heart. Or perhaps he was leering at my cleavage. You can’t be quite sure of anything with these Deer.

Ride me, he simply said, looking up again.

“Okay, why not.” I grabbed hold of an antler and pulled myself up onto his back. I really hoped this was the sort of riding he meant because I was in no mood for tomfoolery.

A wind started blowing away the thick fog before us, though it was no ordinary breeze. Rather, it felt as if the wind was blowing just under the surface of my skin. Like a door opening amid the mist, it revealed the starry darkness of a Twilight Path. He took off, hooves pounding upon the barest shimmer of a road below, a night sky in every direction. This I was familiar with. I had learned all the Paths between worlds – or thought I had – and many of them looked like this.

“How do you make the ground solid here?” I asked. “I’ve ridden across the skies of the Nine Worlds, but I’ve never been able to make the sky hold still beyond the known Paths.” I’d likely not get another chance to ask, and my inquisitiveness was stronger than my fear of offending him.

You slow the wind to step on stones of steady air, he answered, made of önd shaped by megin, but önd is not what flows in this place. [2] [3]

“This much I know, but tell me more” I answered. He was at full gallop now and I held onto his antlers for dear life, though all around us the stars stood still. Only the flexing of his muscles between my legs and the breeze tingling under my flesh revealed our motion.

But what comes before önd is made such by dreaming it? He continued. This wind is not spun of air. Only megin blows here, power belonging to none, before filtering into worlds as starlight, where trees seek it and strip it of endless potential. From there exhaling the önd you breathe in, becoming litur in your body and blooming health.

My mind was a whirr and I bit the side of my lower lip. So that’s why this wind is so odd! It made sense now that he said it. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? So simple!

“So do you use the starlight to make the path… or the megin directly?” I asked.

He stopped suddenly, almost throwing me off, and spoke: Your dreams are too small, little Goddess. Not like the nine and one big dreams.

“The nine big dreams… you mean the Nine Worlds?” He nodded. “But what is the one other big dream?”

The Tree of course, he said. Yggdrasil, which holds all dreams in its branches, the dream that dreams the dreamers, and all that could have been. Remember a place you love. Where do you wish to be? If you could be anywhere at all right now, where would it be?

“I wish I could be back in the orchard,” I said, eyes unfocusing as I stared between his antlers at the stars beyond, “where Hoof-Tosser and I met, when I rode him for the first time.” Eyed downcast I added: “So we could be together again.”

Imagine it. Describe it to me, how it looks, how it smells, and most importantly how it feels.

I did, eyelids pressed together, picturing the apples that gleamed silver and smelled like Spring, where flowers with purple cones rattled like bells in the breeze, and the grass was scented with crisp lemon-minty joy. There’s no place like Alfheim, I smiled. In my mind the stars faded as the sky became blue. I could smell it as fresh as it was then, my best friend’s comforting warmth under me. Affectionately, I patted the side of his shoulder, feeling the bond between us in my heart. That’s when I realized something was amiss in my memory: there had been no stag standing there to our left, looking at us with a cocked head. Wait a minute… what was going on? Wide-eyed I looked around. Where was the starlit path and why was I no longer astride the Deer?

“Hoof Tosser, is that really you?” He felt completely real below me.

Of course it is, he answered with a cocky tone, or have you found a better steed to replace me?

Wrapping my arms around his neck I squeezed. “Oh Hoofie, I’ve missed you! I was so worried I’d lost you, and I was going to die alone, and you’d drift forever, and my son would have no mother, and Frigga would be sad, and her ladies would have a funeral, and then they’d need to replace me and…”

“Whoa girl,” he chided with mirth, “easy there. I’m here, I’m alive, and I am fairly sure none of us is about to die.”

Still hugging my friend I looked to the Stag. “Did you do this?”

No, he said, you did. Megin is bent by memory.

“And how did Hoof-Tosser get here? Are we in Alfheim?”

The Stag shook his head. You do not yet understand. The space that separated you was not distance. It was your desolate dreaming that made this place into a foggy wasteland of slow death, and your desirous dreaming that made it an orchard. It is not air but memory that makes the path below you lead where it must.

“Did you understand what he said, Hoof-Tosser?” I said with a raised eyebrow.

“I think so,” my steed answered. “and this is quite fascinating, but are we not on a tight schedule? Should we not make haste?”

Hand on cheek I said: “You’re right, I can’t believe I got distracted from my mission. Noble Stag, could you please show us the way to…”. Asgard was out of the question, I’d be detained and delayed. There was only one good place to get souls left open to me. “Could you please tell us how to go to Hel?”

He snuffled in apparent irritation, scuffing the dirt with a hoof. I see I shall have to spell it out with simple words. Very well, where do you wish to be now?

“I want to visit Hela.” My legs clutched Hoof -Tosser’s body tightly, still half fearing he might disappear.

Hela, in her hall. And what does she do there?

“Ideally, she agrees and offers me a soul to occupy my human body, one that can raise my children,” I said, then continued with a grimace, “without charging too high a price.”

And what lies before that on your journey? Imagine it as you describe it.

“I suppose a road, the one leading to her castle.”

And before that?

“The Hel-Gates, preceded by the bridge and watchtower.”

Good, see those clearly as you run backward through the path. And what lies between us and that place?

“I don’t know! If I knew I wouldn’t ask.”

Pretend that you know. What would your preferred path look like?

“It would be a milky white path through the stars,” I said with a grin, “those are my favorites. One that arrives just next to the tower.”

You’ve run it backward, now run it forward. Close your eyes and imagine riding all the way from here to Hela’s hall, remembering to feel and smell and hear the places you traverse. Notice any snags, and how you avoid them.

I did as he asked. It would be wonderful if it were that easy.

Good. From her halls, run it backward once more all the way to the here and now.

When I opened my eyes, we were on that very path I’d conceived, a milky Path through the stars which I knew would lead to Helheim.

“What sorcery is this?” I exclaimed.

The kind that gets you out of my lands, he said, dropping his head low to give us an annoyed glare before taking off.


Note: All comments are appreciated. They help fuel faster writing and posting of these stories.

[1] The four stags are mentioned in the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda (wikipedia entry). You can find a personal gnosis story about them here.

[2] Önd – pronounced sort of like the “und” from “under” – is the gift Odin bestowed on the first man and woman during their creation from tree trunks of ash and elm (see the Voluspa). It is generally interpreted as the “breath of life” – similar to prana in India, the vital force that animates and feeds the spirit– which leaves at the person’s last breath. Odin’s brothers Hoenir and Lodur granted humans “Wod” (frenzy, inspiration, drive, spirit), “Lá” and “litu gotha,” (bodily motion and the color/appearance of Gods). More simply, önd is the energy of one’s spirit replenished by breath, and litur is the energy of the physical body replenished by food. A holy person is full of önd to fuel their blessings, while a martial arts master is full of litur to power their techniques.

[3] Megin (pronounced “meh-geen” with a ‘g’ like “go”) translates to “might, personal power.” Thor’s magic belt increases his megin, granting him enough strength to use his heavy hammer. One’s personal power is inherited at birth, but it is thought to be increased by honorable actions and decreased by dishonourable ones.

  1. Fantastic 🙂 Man, the imagery in my head is astounding…

    Liked by 1 person

    • lofnbard says:

      The delay in posting this part was due to me going “wow, I’m really not doing justice to what I’m seeing in my head. How can I describe this?” and repeatedly going “no, that’s not quite right.” I’m glad to hear it conveyed the mystery. Other parts aren’t nearly as mystical and abstract. 🙂

      I’m extremely grateful to Ethan Kincaid ( http://heythisismyjob.wordpress.com/ ) for his excellent editing work in polishing Gna’s story.


  2. Teka Lynn says:

    Oh, I love this! Great to see this installment up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lyra says:

    I love this, but you ended on yet another cliffhanger! :p I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    Also just to add, this part:
    ‘ True that soup has not boiled, it cannot be helped. Shouldering the reds in swimming across time’s last gasp, essence comes calling, and its name does not sound. Veer aboard which coating of glue resists nominations of glory.’

    – Trying to wrap my head around that gave me a similar headache to the ones I get thinking about those negation sentences. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sonyjalerulv says:

    “Say what?” I shook my head, perplexed. I’d heard the four Deer were unfathomable, dealing with subtle matters of universal scope beyond the understanding of most Gods, but this just sounded like insane ramblings.

    Yeah, I read the Stag comment a few times then shook my head and moved on. Then laughed when I saw Gna was just as confused about the meaning as I was! I laughed also at the cleavage and riding comments. 😀

    There is humor in the mix but it is a very mystical feel to this chapter. The way to travel, and the clear visualization to a place and back. it really reminds me of journeying. (shamanic or otherwise)


    • lofnbard says:

      Gna is a funny one! Actually… I’ve had a few requests of “Make me funnier, Bard!” during my writing. 😛

      She’s one of the more lighthearted and optimistic goddesses, impulsive and a bit naive. She lends herself well to playing the fool on occasion, even when the situation is dire. Laughter’s a great way to break out of shock. 🙂

      This is indeed meant to be a mystical journey, and thus not fully explainable. Even I don’t know what the Stag was rambling about. However, his advice to Gna is a teaching for those who feel lost, one which she shares with us. All of my stories are meant to provide hopefully helpful inspiration to get through sticky life situations. Myths were always meant to be a useful roadmap of the spirit, not just entertaining tales. This chapter is just a bit more blatant about it than most.


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