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Association of Polytheist Traditions

How do Gods know?

Copyright © 2005 by Stormerne Hunt-Anschütz

(This article is a transcript of an address given by Stormerne at the Pagan Federation Scottish Conference Edinburgh 2005)


How many of you talk to gods, or a god, or a goddess? And when you talk to them, how many of you expect those gods to know what's going on in your life? How much do you think those gods can see without being told?

Many of us sometimes assume that just because these gods are so much more powerful than we are, that there is no limit to their powers of knowing. We assume that they can know simply because they desire to know, or because they will it.

In this talk I'm going to look at the claims, or the lack of claims, made about gods being "all-knowing". I want to look at the many ways in which gods find out about things. And finally I want to suggest (what may be) a new way in which we, as human beings, can work more closely with our gods.

Why do I want to do this? Because I believe many of us make unwarranted assumptions about our gods. (I know I have in the past.) I want to challenge those assumptions because I believe we'll all benefit./

Definitions

But first some definitions.

When I talk about gods, I'm using the word as a genderless term. Not that I think that deities have no gender - far from it. But by gods, I also mean goddesses. Like many pagans, I have many gods and goddesses, but if you have only one god and/or goddess, that's fine, you're not excluded.

I should say also that I'm what some call a "hard polytheist." That doesn't mean I hang around shopping centres in questionable clothing and intimidating people to come to my rituals. It means when I think of gods, I think of them as real individual beings with individual personalities. I don't think of them as aspects of some single divinity nor do I think of them as archetypes. That doesn't mean you shouldn't see them that way, and I don't have any problem with people who see their gods in whatever way works for them. I see and hear and interact with my gods just like I see and hear and interact with my human friends. I see my friends as individuals and so it makes sense for me to treat my gods in the same way, as I regard them very much as elder kin. Nevertheless, whichever way you see your gods, if you have some kind of active relationship with them, what I've got to say should be of interest to you.

Omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient

So let's go ahead look at the claims.

Have you heard the expression "omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient"? These are qualities often claimed about a deity. Actually usually one deity in particular - the one nowadays people call God with a capital G. But what do these qualities mean?

Omnipresent would mean that the deity is everywhere. Omnipotent would mean that the deity is all-powerful and can do anything. (Rather like Customs and Excise, who are the government's most powerful law enforcement agency, and who can do anything to anyone at anytime and not have to put the pieces back together afterwards.) And omniscient would mean all knowing.

Actually there is much debate about what omniscience is, if it exists at all. Some say it means knowing absolutely everything, including everything that is yet to be. Others say that it only means knowing "everything that can be known", and that "everything that can be known" doesn't include the outcomes of human choice.

Claims of Omniscience

I'm going to put aside the ideas of omnipresence and omnipotence and look at omniscience. The followers of single-god religions often claim their god is omniscient or all knowing. One of the so-called 99 beautiful names of Allah as related by the prophet Muhammad is al-'Alim, which means all-knowing. Various prophets and apostles in the Bible say that God or Yahweh knows everything.

The odd thing about this is that while the followers of this god (Allah, Yahweh, or God, whatever you like to call him), while they often says he knows everything, he never actually says so himself. And that's curious, because he really does get a lot of opportunity to say exactly that in the Bible if he'd wanted to. He gets a lot of airspace in the Old Testament but never actually says that he knows everything. You would think that if he knew everything he'd say so, given that (a) he would see the need his followers had to believe in an omniscient being and that (b) the sort of personality he has anyway.

Conflation of deity and Wyrd

My personal opinion is that followers of Yahweh (in his several guises) have conflated two quite separate things. They have tacked onto their god the characteristics of what Heathens call Wyrd. Now a detailed discussion of Wyrd is outside the scope of this talk, but Wyrd is often symbolised as a web of interconnectedness that stretches between all things, and between all things that have ever been, and new layers of this web are constantly being added as time moves forward.

There are some similarities between Wyrd and the idea of the Akashic Records which are supposed to hold an imprint of everything that has ever happened. Certainly if a god had access to such records, they would have a lot of potential knowledge. And if we believe that "Knowledge is Power", they would have a lot of potential power. That's very similar to the advantage that we humans have in being able to access the internet.

However, Wyrd is not something that's there to worship. You won't find people petitioning Wyrd. Wyrd is not even a sentient being, or at least not as we know it or we can see it in gods. But if you combine the ideas of a god and Wyrd, you have something very like a deity that belongs to the worldwide monotheistic religions.

You'll notice that even though Yahweh has never made these claims for himself, he has never denied these claims. And why should he? It's to his advantage not to. And - I have to say - it's entirely consistent with his character and personality. Oh yes, I believe in this god - I have seen him and spoken with him - but I see him like other gods and not above the rest.

Are pagan gods all-knowing?

So let's move on and take a look at the gods of some pagan religions. There are many people who follow Celtic gods. If you study Celtic mythology you won't find mention of a god that knows everything either. The closest you get is Morgannwg's invention of Hu Gadarn - Hu the Mighty - perpetuated by Graves.

There are some people today who follow Roman or Greek gods. And those gods don't know everything either. In mythology they try and assist human heroes. Even the most powerful god - Zeus - who interferes in wars - he doesn't know what the outcome of a war will be. He knows philosophically that all heroes must die one day, but that doesn't stop him mourning the death of a hero. Had he been all knowing perhaps he need not have grieved. As we shall see later, Zeus needs to rely on other beings to keep him updated about some things that are going on in the world of humans.

And there are the Moirai, goddesses of fate, who spin, measure and cut the threads of human lives. Do they know all? They know the length of a person's days - that's their job - but beyond that there are no claims.

The Story of Ra and Isis

While we're in the Mediterranean, we know the Egyptian gods did not know everything. There is the well-known story of Isis and Ra that demonstrates this and I'll tell it to you now -

Ra, the sun god, had a secret name (or Ren), which was the secret to his power. The goddess Isis wanted to rule over the earth jointly with Ra. She thought she could get this power by learning Ra's secret name. Ra was getting old, and was apparently dribbling from his mouth. Isis took some earth and after adding some of Ra's drool (which, naturally, dropped from the sky), she worked and kneaded the clay into the shape of a snake. Somehow, with her magic powers, she brought the snake to life and placed it in hiding by the path that Ra (as the sun) travelled every day.

Soon, Ra came along with his retinue of gods and servants. The serpent slithered out and bit Ra on the leg. Ra began to feel woozy right away, feeling his "vital power" leaving him. As the serpent's poison flowed through his veins, Ra screamed in pain. All the gods gathered round him, asking what the matter was. However, Ra was in the grip of the poison, and could not tell them what had happened-his teeth rattled and his limbs shook, for the poison had flooded right through him, just as the Nile floods all of the land of Egypt.

When Ra finally did manage to speak, he said that he had been wounded by some deadly thing which he did not see or make, and he asked who would do such a thing to him. He says, "I have never suffered pain such as this before." Then he talks about what a mighty god he is and how many wonderful and powerful names he has. His real, secret name, however, was hidden inside his body so that the words of power of those who would work magic upon me might not obtain control over him. He then talks about his pain again and asks the gods to help cure him with spells.

All the gods try, but only Isis seems to have a clue as to the nature of this disease. She says immediately that Ra has obviously been poisoned by a serpent, and moreover, that she can cure him with her efficacious words of power. Ra again complains about shaking and feeling chilled ("colder than water") and feverish ("hotter than fire"). Isis says, "Tell me you name, divine father, for the person lives who repeats your name".

However, instead of telling his name, Ra boasts of his creation of the earth and mountains and of his power to make the Nile rise. He tells Isis some of his other names--"I am Khepera in the morning, Ra at noon- day, and Temu in the evening" -- but still he will not surrender his secret name.

Isis is not fooled by these well-known names, and she asks again for the secret name. Since he is so ill, Ra finally says, "I will allow myself to be searched through by Isis, and will let my name come out from my body and pass into her body". Ra hides himself from the other gods, and Isis, assisted by her son Horus, performs the name operation in some unspecified manner. She then utters a magic spell, curing him with her words of power.

So what's the point of this story? If Ra had been all-knowing, he would have known what had bitten him and what Isis was up to. If Isis had been all-knowing, she wouldn't have needed to force Ra's secret name out of him.

Let's come closer to home and look at my own religion - Heathenry. Look through the lore and you will find countless examples of gods not knowing everything. Even Oðin, the heathen god mostly closely associated with knowledge. He is constantly trying to get more and more. The ways he goes about this I'll discuss shortly.

How do we know?

However, let's leave the stories of the gods for a while and look at knowledge itself. The title of this talk is "How do gods know?" Well it may help first to ask the question, "How do people know?" When you learn something, how did you find it out?

There are lots of ways:

  • If you're clever, you might use deduction and work something out from what you know already.
  • Or you might use induction and recognise a pattern in something.
  • You might live through an experience, voluntarily or involuntarily, and learn that way.
  • You might discover it.
  • Or you might be told by a human teacher or by a god or even by your subconscious.
  • You might read it in a book
  • Or you might use some visionary gift to get the knowledge. For example:
    • In a dream
    • In a meditation journey
    • Through clairvoyance or other similar gift
  • You might even have gained new knowledge using some kind of divination.

There are lots and lots of ways.

How do we learn?

Now suppose you were learning something new, how would you go about it? That partly depends on whether your learning is going to be accidental or deliberate.

If it's accidental you might learn something

  • in causal conversation
  • or by casually reading a book or a newspaper
  • or by watching the TV or listening to the radio
  • or surfing the web

However, if you're deliberately trying to learn something

  • You might study a book
  • You might make a more thorough search of the web
  • It might be something you could work out
  • You might lock yourself away in your laboratory and conduct fiendish experiments
  • You might deliberately throw yourself into a situation where you can learn by experience
  • You might book yourself on a course of evening classes
  • Or you might just go and ask somebody else.

Asking can be effective!

Asking other people is very effective you know, and is very much underrated as a way of finding things out! I'll tell you a quick story to illustrate.

Once upon a time, maybe 6 or 7 years ago, my wife Arlea and I were both invited to speak at a PF conference for the south of England. If I remember rightly, she gave a talk on home-brewing with sacred herbs, and I did my rune energy workshop which seems to have been popular at so many conferences.

We were taking a break in the café and we stood in the queue waiting to get something to eat. A woman we'd never met before, who was in front of us in the queue, struck up a conversation with us and, as normal with people we randomly meet in café queues, she started describing her visions to us.

She must have known who were we were and thought mistakenly that we were some kind of authority, because the purpose of her description was that she wanted to find out who this god character was that kept coming to talk to her in her visions. She described how this god looked, what he was wearing, what he did and what he said. She thought that we might recognise him.

At which point I stopped her and said, "Sorry to interrupt, but what did you say your name was?" She paused mid-flow and said, "Jane." So I said to her, "Well why don't you do what I just did? I didn't know your name, so I asked you, and you told me!" Sometimes people seem to feel as though they need permission to ask.

How do gods get new information?

Anyway, to get back to "How do gods know", I suggest that that when gods want to know something, they use ways which are not completely dissimilar. No, I'm not suggesting that when you go along to your Spanish evening classes you'll find a big burly bloke with a hammer sitting at the back. But you might find some similarities in the mythology. True, what's described is often just a human way of putting into words what we can't adequately comprehend, but the parallels are interesting.

For example, a favourite way that Celtic gods get to know about things is by experience. If you want to know about something, what better way is there than by becoming it? So you read tales of shapeshifting in Celtic lore and the (fee-faw) fith fath spell used to make it happen./

Finding out from others also works. Take the Greek god Zeus, for instance. He has a daughter, the goddess Dike (dee-kay), who epitomises justice and who is hurt whenever there is slander or other injustice in the world. Zeus relies on her to tell him of these injustices so that he can act on them.

Zeus isn't the only one relying on an agent to keep him up to date with news. The Heathen god Oðin has two well-known ravens, Huginn and Muninn, whose names are often translated as Mind and Memory. In the Prose Edda , Snorri writes:

"Two ravens sit on his shoulders and bring to his ears all the news that they see or hear. He sends them out at daybreak to fly over the whole world, and they come back at breakfast-time; by this means he comes to know a great deal about what is going on, and on account of this men call him the God-of-ravens."

The many questings of Oðin

Oðin also uses lots of other ways to try and get new knowledge. He uses a kind of shamanic or magical quest to gain the knowledge of runes. The ancient poem called the Words of the High One says:

Wounded I hung on a wind-swept tree
For nine long nights,
Pierced by a spear, pledged to Oðin,
Offered, myself to myself
The wisest know not from whence spring
The roots of that ancient tree

They gave me no bread,
They gave me no mead,
I looked down;
with a loud cry
I took up runes;
from that tree I fell.

This kind of sacrifice for knowledge is no stranger to Oðin. He is sometimes known as the One-Eyed god, and the missing eye he has left in Mimir's well which lies amid the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil. He sacrificed the eye to gain wisdom.

In another incident Oðin uses herbs and charms to keep alive the decapitated head of a wise god. By doing this it can still speak and tell Oðin its secrets.

How Oðin won the mead of poetry

There was another wise god called Kvasir who was killed by dwarves and his blood mixed with honey to make mead. This mead became the drink that made whoever drank it into a poet or a scholar. The mead ends up with a giant called Suttung who gets his daughter Gunnlöð to look after it. Naturally this all comes to the attention of Oðin who must get hold of this mead.

The story goes that Oðin left home once and came across nine serfs mowing hay. He asked if they would like him to sharpen their scythes and they said they would. So he took a sharpening stone from his belt and put an edge on their tools and they all thought they cut much better and wanted to buy the stone. He stipulated that the would-be purchaser should pay for it by giving a banquet. They replied they were all willing to do this and asked him to hand it over to them. He threw the stone up into the air, however, and as they all wanted to catch it, it ended with them all cutting one another's throats with their scythes.

Oðin sought lodgings for the night with Suttung's brother, a giant called Baugi. Baugi said that his affairs were in a bad way; he told him that nine of his serfs had been mysteriously killed and said that he had no hope of finding any other labourers. Oðin, giving his name as Bölverk (which means the Evil Doer), offered to do the work of nine men for Baugi, and asked as wages one drink of Suttung's mead. Baugi told him that he had nothing to do with the mead, adding that Suttung was anxious to keep it under his sole control, but he professed himself willing to go along with Bölverk to try to get hold of it.

That summer Bölverk did the work of nine men for Baugi, and when winter came he asked Baugi for his wages. Then they both went to Suttung. Baugi told his brother Suttung of his bargain with Bölverk, but Suttung flatly refused them a single drop of mead. Then Bölverk said to Baugi that they must try to get hold of the mead by some kind of trick. Baugi said that that was a good idea.

Bölverk then brought out the auger called Rati and said that if the auger would pierce it, Baugi was to bore a hole through the mountain. He did so. When Baugi said that the mountain had been pierced through, Bölverk blew into the hole left by the auger but chips flew up into his face. He realized then that Baugi wanted to cheat him, and told him to bore right through this time. Baugi bored again, and when Bölverk blew into the hole for the second time the chips were blown all the way through. Then Bölverk changed himself into a serpent and crawled into the auger-hole. Baugi stabbed at him with the auger but missed him.

Bölverk came to where Gunnlöð was, and slept with her for three nights, and then she promised him three drinks of the mead. The mead was in three containers, a kettle called Óðrörir and two pots called Són and Boðn. At his first drink he drank up all the mead that was in Óðrörir. At his second drink he drank all the mead that was in Són. And his third, he drank all the mead that was in Boðn - and then he had finished all the mead. And he changed himself into an eagle and flew away at top- speed.

When Suttung saw the eagle in flight, however, he also took on eagle shape and flew after him. Now when the Æsir saw where Oðin was flying, they put their pots out in the courtyard, and when Oðinn came inside Asgarð he spat the mead into the pots. It was such a close shave that although Suttung did not catch him, Oðin let some fall, but no one bothered about that. Anyone who wanted could have it and we call it the poets' share.

So what do we learn by this story? We learn that Oðin is willing to go on a long quest to get new knowledge. He is willing to endure much discomfort and subject others to discomfort too in order to succeed.

And if that's not enough, when Oðin is in Asgard, the world of the gods, he has a high seat called Hlidskjalf. And when he sits in this high seat, a seat that he sometimes shares with his wife Frigg, he has a view over the whole of our own world, Midgard. That doesn't necessarily mean he can see everything that happens - otherwise he wouldn't need his ravens - but only that he can see a global view. And even though he can see people do things it doesn't mean that he see why people do things. Nevertheless, it would seem that Oðin's personal motto is, "I must know!"

Oðin's surprising request for an offering

Which brings me to the last section of this talk in which I want to suggest what may be a new way that we, as human beings, can work more closely with our gods.

Most of the stories that I've been telling you up to now have been based on myth and legend. You may as easily choose to disbelieve them as to believe them. You may see them as literal, or metaphorical, or simply as good stories.

But now what I have to say involves a true story about something that happened only last year. And this story is very relevant because it explains how this talk came about in the first place.

Last summer, a heathen friend of ours, who had been living in Cumbernauld, moved away 170 miles south to live in darkest Lancashire. (That's darkest Lancashire, not darkest Lanarkshire.) When she and her partner were settled, they invited their old Glasgow friends to a housewarming. The housewarming was to take the form of a blot - a Heathen ritual - and two gods had shown an interest in attending, one of whom was Oðin.

Our friend had talked to Oðin about what he wanted as an offering at this ritual and he had been very explicit in his reply. What he said was this:

  • We all had to make an effort with how we dressed. Fair enough.
  • And we all had to offer him a piece of knowledge.

This last request was very unusual. Apparently it could be anything of our choice. (Ha! As if we ever have a choice with Oðin!) And it could include a demonstration. But one thing in particular: it had to be written down on a piece of paper.

Well that got us all thinking and asking lots of questions...

  • Could we offer him something that we knew about that surely he would already know about?
  • If he already had that knowledge, would it really be an offering?
  • Could we therefore simply make it convenient for us to offer rather than useful for him to receive?

Well we had a month to find out and prepare.

The ritual to Oðin

Come the morning of the ritual and I was in the bath at my home in Renfrew just before travelling down, I still hadn't got my piece of knowledge on paper. I still didn't have an offering for Oðin. I still didn't know what it was. I'd got a clue a few days before that there was a deal involved rather than just a piece of information. But a deal about what?

I knew my wife had decided to offer him the knowledge of mead making and was ready to take all the ingredients and equipment down to Lancashire to demonstrate it and start a brew. I knew that one friend had had it insistently drilled into him by Oðin that he should offer him a document describing how to construct a web site. My friend had therefore spent days diligently typing up this document and it came to some 90 pages! And here was I, sitting in the bath, just about to make the 3 1/2 hour car journey and still I had nothing!

I think I spoke to Oðin at that point and it all became clear, if a little unusual. I got out of the bath, typed it up and left with my wife for Lancashire. What I wrote on that piece of paper I'll tell you in a moment.

We arrived in Lancashire, we dressed smartly for the ritual as Oðin had requested, and it began. We each read out what we were offering (although fortunately my friend did not read out the entire 90 pages of his document). There were demonstrations during which Arlea showed everyone how to make mead and started a brew which, incidentally, and through some magic of Oðin, was ready to drink in 6 weeks instead of the normal 18 months!

I think there was still some puzzlement about why Oðin wanted all these things. The person who offered the 90 page document even said as he offered it that he did so even though Oðin must know the information already. And why not? Surely it was a reasonable thing to assume. After all, the knowledge of how to make a web site had been in the public domain for a long time - over 10 years. But perhaps we were all still making our own assumptions about how gods know.

The SMART deal

But then I offered my piece of paper and it said simply this:

The SMART deal

I am offering Odin a deal in knowledge. There will be something in it for both of us.

What I want

I believe that my recent career moves have been engineered by Odin to push me into to some kind of training role instead of a straightforward development engineering role. This seems to me to be a long-term thing as it's something I seem to be better at than most people and probably better at than I am at other things.

I need knowledge. I need knowledge of how to develop this as my career, how to make it a paying proposition, how to be able to live comfortably off it, where I can best pursue it and how to make it something that I can retire on.

What I will give

Odin showed me the vision of one of his ravens sitting on his shoulder. He wants me to be like that. Like his ravens, I am to roam the world gathering knowledge - that which I discover and think will be useful to him - and pass it on to him. As I gather it, at frequent intervals I will write it down and dedicate it to him by burning it.

An example of this is something I have recently been teaching people about in engineering. The subject might at first seem unrelated but it is to do with requirements gathering. I teach people how to use the acronym "S-M-A-R-T" and thus write "SMART requirements". What I have realised is that if you make a deal with a god, it must also be a SMART deal! It must be:

  • Specific - The deal must be clear, concise and unambiguous
  • Measurable - Both sides must be able to verify the deal has been kept
  • Attainable - Realistic, achievable goals must be set
  • Reciprocal - There must be something in it for both parties
  • Time-bounded - so that the deal can be reviewed and neither party is held to it forever

With this latter point in mind, I have agreed with Odin to review this deal on a quarterly basis.

Why does Oðin want this deal?

So I have this deal with Oðin, but the important thing is that he actively wants me to get information for him. He wants me to be a researcher or a news gatherer. Perhaps he wants me to be a filter of information for him, sifting out the interesting stuff from rubbish. And there's plenty of rubbish. But one implication of all this is that he doesn't know everything there is to know at the moment.

Why should that be? Couldn't he just go and get the information himself? Yes probably. But as I said at the start: many of us sometimes assume that just because these gods are so much more powerful than we are, that there is no limit to their powers of knowing. We assume that they can know simply because they desire to know, or because they will it. Yet there may be substantial effort involved on their part to do that, and it could be done far more efficiently if we simply passed the information onto them.

People used to say, "It's not what you know but whom you know." The implication was that contacts and the influence of important people was more important in, say, promoting your career than your actual ability. That may still be true to some extent. But in fact there is so much information available nowadays, that it's not what you know, it's knowing where to get both new and old knowledge, that's important. The sheer volume of data available nowadays makes it harder. Whom you know may still be important, but often as not these people will be sources of information for you instead of just helpful influences.

There are very many more people around nowadays and, if the gods are interested in people, there are a lot more lives to keep track of. So perhaps the gods would be very happy using us as sources of information.

So we can do this for gods, but there's no reason why we shouldn't expect something in return. That's where smart deals can be useful.

Thoughts about offerings

Does this all still sound very strange? Well think about this: we offer food and drink to the gods at our rituals and they take it. But it's a small amount compared to the amount that they could take from elsewhere if they wanted to. For example, you've offered a chalice of wine or a horn of mead to a god, but there's three more bottles under the altar that they could consume if they were minded! You might say, "It's the act of giving that they want rather than the drink itself." But if this were true, why would they be so picky about the food and drink they were offered?

I have a close pagan friend whose patron is Minerva but who often interacts with other Roman gods. He once did a ritual for the goddess Venus and he took great pains to recreate the exact recipe for the cakes that were used as offerings in rituals to Venus 2,000 years ago. After the ritual, Venus told him, "Well that was all very nice, but had you asked me, I would have preferred the Turkish delight that you have at the back of that drawer over there." He hadn't asked her beforehand and he hadn't known the Turkish delight was there. And she hadn't gone and taken it of her own accord.

So perhaps there is an act of magic involved in deliberately giving a god something they want. It might be the act of giving itself, or it might be something we humans do to the offering that makes the gods able to consume it. I don't know and I don't know anyone that does know. Perhaps that will be a project for my next talk. But it's certainly true that not just anything will do as an offering and some gods are very picky indeed about what they get.

So what can we learn from this? We often go to gods to learn from them or for help with something in our personal lives. Perhaps in future we shouldn't assume that that god, or any god, knows everything about our situation. It may suit them to help you, and they may indeed want to help you, but maybe we can make it easier for them if we make a point of explicitly telling them in some way. Just because they can read our minds when they want to and that they can have a wider vision if they want to, it doesn't mean they instantly know all about us, our situation, all the other people affecting our situation and their problems and so on.

And if we've come to assume that a god wants a certain kind of offering, of food or drink for example, perhaps we should be open to other possibilities in the future. Perhaps some gods will want knowledge more than others, but we should be open and it's worth asking. An offering doesn't have to be a sacrifice - offerings and sacrifices are independent of each other - and most gods seem to want offerings rather than demand sacrifices, so knowledge works from that point of view as well.

Summary

We've covered quite a bit in the last hour. We've looked at the claims or rather the lack of claims that gods make for themselves when it comes to being all knowing. We've seen how it's their followers who usually make the claim. We've looked at the different ways they know things and the varied methods they use to get new knowledge. And we've also seen that it can often make sense to make offerings of knowledge to them and to share what we've learned. On the one hand we may be giving them something they want, and on the other if may help them to help us. Either way it's mutually beneficial.

Thanks and dedication

Before I wrap up I want to acknowledge the help of the god Heimdall when putting together the ideas for this talk, the goddess Demeter whom I've not dealt with before but who turned up to help me put these ideas into words, and of course to Oðin for starting it all off in the first place and to whom this talk is dedicated.

Re-evaluate

What should we do now? Well, let's all look - each one of us - at the assumptions we make about gods, let's make a start on re-evaluating those assumptions, and next time we interact with a god remember that we may play a part in how gods know.

The climax of the ritual

And I'll leave you with one last thought. At the end of the housewarming ritual where we each brought some piece of knowledge to Oðin, the climax was when we all went to the fire and we each put on our pieces of paper. And when the 90 page document was put on the fire and it started to burn, it did so in the most unusual way. Instead of burning from the bottom it burned from the top. A small pinch mark appeared in whatever sheet was on the top and it lifted away from the other pages. Only then did it catch fire. It was as though Oðin were reading the pages one by one.

Thank you very much.