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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Story of my Odin Staff, or Why it's Okay to Ask the Gods to Help

    One of the physical object that I would describe as my most precious possession is an ash staff hand-carved with images relating to Odin. The staff was made by the amazing Paul Borda, of Dryad Design,  and is something I use in my seidhr work among other things. And yes the staff has a name, but it often is referred to simply as the Odin Staff, and it has gained its own reputation among my friends for personality. I could tell you stories about how it seems to look at people, in a way that unnerves many, or about how it doesn't seem to like my husband who mysteriously ends up tripping over it whenever he is near it, even when the tripping is inexplicable. But I think instead I will tell you the story of how I came to have the Odin Staff and why I believe that it is okay to ask the Gods for help when we feel they are asking us for something....
    About a year ago I had begun thinking of getting a staff to use with seidhr work. The seidhrkona in Eric the Red's Saga used a staff and several modern practitioners have mentioned using one; I found the idea intriguing and was contemplating working it into my own practice. I have a couple staves already, but none of them felt right for use in seidhr so I was tentatively thinking of making my own, a daunting prospect given my past failures in that area.
    I'd been debating back and forth with myself for several months actually about using or not using a staff and making one or not and hadn't made any firm decisions, when in late January of this year I saw a link to an e-bay listing for a staff by Paul Borda. I can't accurately describe the intense and immediate feeling that this staff was meant to be mine. It was overwhelming. I had never been on e-bay before and I had an ingrained mistrust of any online auction sites but I followed the link like Alice diving down the rabbit hole. The staff was beautiful, and it was perfect. Made of ash wood it was intricately carved with an image of Odin, his two ravens, his two wolves, Sleipnir, and the rune ansuz. Odin was holding a horn (I imagined of mead) in one hand, and his spear Gungnir in his other hand. The detail was stunning and I was in love. The price however was prohibitive, so I sadly told myself it was not to be.
  The auction ran for a week. Every day I found myself obsessively thinking about the staff in a way that was not normal. I couldn't get it out of my mind and I found myself fighting the temptation to place a minimal bid on it, even though I had bills to pay. Finally I started to wonder if this was all me or if some of this was rooted in Odin wanting me to have the staff - I realize how that sounds but at this point I could not explain why I was so obsessed with it. The more I thought that it was something he wanted me to have, the more sure I became that it was so, but the rational part of my mind kept interjecting that it could just be my own desire. Why, afterall, would a deity care what kind of a staff I used, even if I was dedicated to him and it was for work I do because of him? I am fond of beautiful things, and it could just as easily have been my own desire talking. Finally I thought of some advice I'd been given years ago by another seidhrworker and Odinswoman that I very much respect. She told me that sometimes the Gods may want us to do certain things for them, and in those cases there is nothing wrong in asking for their help in getting what we need to accomplish what's being asked of us.
   I thought long and hard about this, and about whether there was any possible way I could get the needed money. My family had just filed our tax return and I knew we had some money coming back; this is the only real spending money of any quantity that I have during the year and I already had a list of books and other items that I was planning to get. But I also knew that it had always taken at least 2 weeks for the tax refund to show up in our bank account and that would be long after this auction closed. It seemed impossible for me to work this out on my own in any way.
   That wednesday I stood before my altar, lit a candle, and made a small offering. I asked Odin, if it really was true that I was meant to have this staff or that he wanted me to have it for my seidhr work, that he help me to have the money in time. In exchange I said that I would spend every penny that I had for spending money if it came to that, to try to get the staff, and forego all the other items I had wanted to get.
   I walked away feeling like it was out of my hands now, one way or another.
   The next day when I checked my bank account (to balance my checkbook) the tax return money had been direct deposited. A record 3 days after filing the return. It freaked me right out. I actually went back and triple checked it to be sure it was really there. And then I remembered my end of the agreement and went up and placed a bid on the staff, which I won two days later when the auction closed.
   Even now telling the story it seems unreal, but that is exactly what happened, the way that it happened. And I have had the staff ever since.
  The biggest lesson I got out of this was that it really is okay to ask the gods for help when we feel that they want us to do something. If they really want it then they will help with it (obviously how to tell what they want is an entirely different topic). In the past when I felt that something was wanted of me I always took it as a personal challenge. It is hard for me to ask for help, even divine help, because I always rely in myself to get things done or to work things out, so this was probably a lesson I needed to learn.

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