Three trees (c)1995 Sophia kelly

Odin’s Ordeal Part 3 – The Hieros Gamos

The rune I received (literally written over my eye) back when I fell on my head at a Norse Pagan festival two years ago, was a bindrune. It can be seen as a combination of the runes Algis (representing antlers) and Tyr (an arrow) or Algis in two directions, which are the symbols of life and death. Together as a bindrune they also represent the Sacred Marriage, or Hieros Gamos.

I realize I have been seeking this Sacred Marriage my whole adult life. I have made choices to leave relationships when it felt intolerable that they were not intimate, passionate and real. I left a my male partner to love women. I left a woman who wanted to marry me, who was kind and good, because there was no passion and I was a trophy to her. I left my wife, another good woman, because we did not have the intimacy I needed and we could not make one another happy. I have loved women who could not put me first, or who could not be loyal.  All decisions were ultimately about sex, intimacy, passion and a quest for true deep partnership. All involved sacrifice and a kind of death and rebirth to a new self. Along the way there were other sacrifices – giving up relationships that were harming me, or not right for me, at time transforming them into friendships, at times cutting them off completely.

A year ago, I did a spell for a ‘secure relationship’ which is really psychology’s answer to the Hieros Gamos. The meeting of equals who honour one another with union, devotion, commitment and passion. I decided to go after the women who I thought could meet me, with whom I could have this kind of connection. I asked a couple of them out. I got shot down. And then a pandemic happened. And I realized that it may be years before I had the opportunity to date again.

In the midst of a pandemic a woman found me. She seemed to be the answer to what I had always wanted. She was tall and accomplished, smart, physically affectionate and attentive. She appeared to be attached to me. I felt full of creative energy and life. I fell in love. She told me she fell in love.

I wanted to love her in the best possible way. I wanted to make healthy choices, to be honest and forthright and transparent. I wanted to grow.

I have to stop thinking of romantic relationships as trials I have to pass like Heracles. She wanted a lot more space than I did, so I gave it to her. I gave till it hurt. She asked intrusive questions of me, and I answered them as openly as I could which made me vulnerable. She rationed the time we spent together jealously, as if otherwise I would take over her life. Every rejection felt like it bled power from me, until I was numb and waiting for it all to be over. She began to criticise me while denying she was being critical.   I betrayed myself. The test was not in how much pain I could endure. The test was supposed to be whether I could claim the power and wisdom I have earned.

This woman will not be the Hieros Gamos. Perhaps it was a trial, perhaps it was a learning to reappreciate a learning of the past (similar to how my second head injury helped me understandthe lifelong impact of the first as a child). Perhaps it will be a learning that equals the ability manage my blood pressure, that has freed me from lifelong fatigue, most of the time.  I hope so.

Perhaps in saying no to the false prize, I will win a true one?

My friends have gone above and beyond for me this week. One let me come and have dinner with her at the last minute on Christmas day, after a fight my beloved and I had had. One spoke to me on the phone at midnight that same night, offering a loving ear and wise counsel. She pointed out that a relationship should deepen and grow, not hold still as mine had. Today another dear friend told me that I am spectacular – strong and powerful, extremely smart, wise, creative in both writing and music, kind and compassionate, spiritual and mystical. “You can work energy!” She said, like it was something amazing. She said that one of the things about being amazing is that it is very hard to find partners who can meet you. She asked if there was anything about this relationship that was irreplaceable. She asked me what, as a priestess, I would tell someone like myself.

I would tell Sophia the parishioner that she knows what she needs, and that she believes in magic. Magic is the belief that something amazing can happen, unexpected, perhaps unwarranted. That symbols matter. That an amulet to remind you of where you are and what you require is that bindrune. That is what you need to carry with you to remind you.

My friend said to determine whether my beloved can meet me, by asking her what kind of relationship she wants with me, not to throw good emotional labour after bad. She asked how I can use this for my own growth, to claim even more of my power. She said to let my beloved meet me, or not. I am almost certain she will not.

But perhaps claiming this wisdom, this hieros gamos, is what I am earning here.

The amulet I am taking forward into my life is the ability to say “that is not the kind of relationship I want” to set the kinds of boundaries I need to set.

More posts about this journey of initiation with Odin are here

Three trees (c)1995 Sophia kelly
Three trees (c)1995 Sophia Kelly – this was an image I drew at an art therapy convention in Montreal circa 1995, before I left my male common law partner to come out and live a more authentic life. The sketch was done on graph paper, then photocopied and the copies entwined. It contains themes that have been important in my life every since. It is now installed in a cabinet I keep my ritual supplies in. Photo credit 2020 Sophia Kelly. All rights reserved.

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