Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Shattered Gray Expansive

When was the last time you thought about giants?

I remember when I was starting to get into this whole Norse worldview and I was reading the various myths that involved the jotnar, or "giants" as we'd translate them into English. Whatever proportions these beings might have would fly around wildly, especially in relation to the aesir, the focus of the narrative. So much rowing about was made on "who" the giants were supposed to be that I feel like a lot of folklorists lost "what" the giants were supposed to be. Not every myth's an allegory for society (*cough* Homer! *cough*). What if the strict relative volume that we experience in Midgard just... doesn't occur with giants, as if forced perspective and points of view would shift wildly and their relative placement and size in space-time were somehow screwed up? The best example I can think of is some dull, neurotic person standing in a road, screaming about all of the things s/he can get or have to keep safe, caught in this mental loop ("Oh no! I'm worried about Thor killing me, so I'm going to steal his hammer, Mjolnir. Oh no! Now that I have his hammer, he might find it, so I have to hide it. Oh no! Now that I've hidden it, I don't know if he'll still find it or not, so maybe I'll just give it back to him. Wait! I had his hammer! I spent so much time working on this, I have to get something in return! I want... Freyja! Yeah! I'll give them the hammer in return for Freyja's hand in marriage!") Of course, there's no reasoning with a giant; everything they think about is just blown out of proportion, so you give up and walk away. Somehow, the giant takes up exactly the same percentage of your field of vision at 500 feet away that he did at 50.

That's the thing about the jotnar: they have no sense of proportion in physicality, and even less in terms of situational moments. I have this notion that if a jotunn just took a deep breath and showed some sort of consideration, maybe they'd get by without being walloped by Thor or thoroughly embarrassed by Wodan. "Hold on a sec; I'm in Valhalla, and I'm really drunk. Maybe I should just own up and go home before I start saying something stupid and making these guys angry at me." "You know, this potion was made from the blood of a god. Maybe I should just leave it with those two stupid dwarves, or even better, tell the gods about it so that they can give their kinsman rest and I can earn a favor from them." See, thinking along those lines would have made lives a lot easier for the giants in question, but nope, they had to go shooting their mouths off and taking stuff that'd best be left untouched, out of this unslakeable self-interest.

Thankfully, here on Midgard, we human-types have the advantage of getting over that self-interest. I might even go out on a limb to say that the antagonistic jotnar might embody the overblown self-interest that leads us to situations where the gods repeatedly smack us around. The creation myth of Ymir's death at the hands of Wodan seems to spell that out rather clearly: the singular Giant contains all matter that we know, and that singular giant continues to grow, simply spawning off more of itself with no differentiation between anything. So, thanks to some interaction of the Fate Cow, the other self-created being, Wodan and his three brothers (who might just be he in triple form; I've since stopped caring) come about and chop this One Giant into all manner of little pieces to create the world as we know it, thus casting out that monomaniacal initial being into a vast universe of explorable parts. It's rather telling that giants persisted after this, as some level of self-interest is healthy, but leading a person to charge in headlong instead of addressing them as sensible equals and engaging in communication doesn't please the powers that be all that much.

I have to wonder about the "giant" rune, as well, Thurisaz/Thurs/Thorn. I got thinking about the line "woe to women" in the poem and thought about the times my energy got caught up in myself, expressing as some neurotic self-perpetuating frustration that froze my libido, which in turn froze the muscles in my back and ran "loner" and "restricted" loops in my mind while alienating and frustrating my sex life with my partner. The misery seemed to seek to perpetuate itself not only in my thoughts, but in my interactions with others, shouting louder and louder to drown out the identity of the problem. It took a few massage sessions, a fainting spell, and an inordinate amount of patience and love from my consort to break through to the core issue and awaken the fire between us once more. While I can feel myself falling back into those thoughts and patterns every so often, it now lasts for a moment before I take a deep breath, calm my thoughts, and loosen the muscle. Yeah, I still have my work cut out for me, but I feel like the process has given me tools and focus.

No comments: