Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rite of Passage

Photo by Tapio Kotkavuori

On 5th of December of 2005 CE I got an email from the U.K. It wasn't an everyday email, but a sponsorship into the Rune-Gild.
I had previously been a lot in contact with Fellow Ensio Kataja, who had given his thumbs up regarding my wish to affiliate with the Gild. I had previously Worked with the Finnish Rune Workshop of the Gild back in the mid- and late 90's CE. It was run by N.N., then Steward of the Baltic of the Gild. Back then I was not officially affiliated with the Gild, and due to my life circumstances, I didn't affiliate with the Gild even after completing the Nine Doors of Midgard-curriculum in 1999 CE.
This time, more than five years later, I felt that the time was right. I was going to officially affiliate with the Rune-Gild. In an inspired state of mind, I got an idea about going to do the entry rite into the Gild at old Uppsala, the famous ancient pagan center in Sweden. I had been there few times before and something intuitively told me, that it would be an ideal place to do my rite of passage into the Gild.
I had just appropriate few days off from my studies at the university of Turku, so the trip to Sweden was possible considering my schedule. It was completely another thing to book a trip with such a short notice, though. As I got the idea, I had about five hours till the time my ferry from Turku, Finland, was to leave to Stockholm, Sweden, at 9 pm on Tuesday evening.
I made a call and inquired about free cabins. The Viking Line ship Isabella was pretty fully booked, and in the category I was looking for there was only one free cabin left. I thought about two minutes of my impromptu idea to go to old Uppsala, and decided to go for it. I booked the cabin and started to pack my luggage. I took things needed in the entry rite, some of them at the time without remembering that I needed them in the rite. One of those items was the Poetic Edda.
There was magic in the air. I had grasped the moment in an unusual way to everyday life and I was on my way to the place where Óðinn had been honored since ancient times.
It was at the harbour where I realized that I needed the Poetic Edda in the rite. It was one of the things that made me feel in the spirit of dagaz that all kinds of corners of my consciousness were focused to this trip as a whole.
I found my cabin number 9206. The huge ship left the harbour and started to push over the Gulf of Bothnia, into the night over the dark sea between Finland and Sweden. The rite of passage had formally begun... (although, actually, it had begun already when I had grasped the moment of inspiration and decided to go to Uppsala to do the rite).
There I was, doing my solitary rite of passage. The deeper the ship got into the darkness of the night, the deeper I felt that everything I was experiencing was a mirror of my very being. I was out of my ordirary everyday environment, "I was not supposed to be there". Shaking the established patterns of one's universe with such acts at appropriate times carry a magic of its own.
With utter dedication and seriousness about what I was doing, I felt the meaning and holiness of my effort, my self-sacrifice for my Self. I felt the meaning of that effort between natural birth and death. I did remember my Self. I was facing the Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans. I experienced aletheia.
I thought about the entry-rite and did read through its Finnish translation that Fellow Kataja had done. I decided that I wanted to sign the rite form at Uppsala and I wanted it to be also in English for my sponsor. So, I translated the rite back into English in the night in my cabin. I wrote the rite to the last pages of my diary and took those pages off.
It was pretty late as I finally got asleep. I was just in so inspired state of mind that it seemed impossible to get some sleep. I reflected on things, I did read and write my diary, and I also did read some Poetic Edda.
The ship was at Stockholm early the next morning, at 7.30 am local time, one hour behind Finnish time. I had no exact idea on how to find my way to the central railwaystation to get to Uppsala, but that was solved soon, though. After some half an hour after arriving to Sweden, I already sat in a bus that was heading towards Uppsala.
It was another ride in the darkness. This time not upon the sea, but through forests and large open fields. They looked so timeless in the morning mist that I was able to think what the area had looked like several hundreds of years ago. I was reading the Poetic Edda, the section of Hávamál, and looking at the views. It all looked and felt like from the book I was reading. My rite of passage was like from the book, mythical occasion in itself. And so it was. I felt the eternal truth of myths; how suprarational consciousness expresses itself in a timeless manner through myths. I was living mythical experience true myself, on my rite of passage. The closer I got to Uppsala, the more I felt Óðinn to be resonant with my consciousness.
You can certainly tell that you have arrived at an old pagan city if the main statue greeting you at the main busstation is a combination of shamelessly happy and completely nude figures of a man and a woman. More than that, they are both somewhat purposefully exaggerated in their expressions, shapes and sizes.
It was a little adventure in itself again to find the right bus to old Uppsala, which is located some 10 kilometres away from the modern city of Uppsala. Not too many people shared my destination. I was checking my maps and was looking for the streetnames. When the street with Valhöl in its name appeared, I knew I was not too far away from my destination. And sure enough, I saw tops of the mounds behind the trees in that dark, misty and rainy morning. The trip that I had started some 12 hours before had reached this point - I had finally arrived at the old pagan centre of Uppsala.
What a wyrd moment.
I walked next to the first mound and picked an oak twig that I found. I decided to use that in the rite and later make runes from it. I walked around the church that is right next to the mounds. The same pieces of runestones were still there, just like the last time I visited the mounds about seven years ago.
I focused my mind to the rite, reflected on it and on the meaning of my trip to Uppsala. When I was ready, I walked to the Thor's mound, the biggest of the three mounds. I checked all the items needed in the rite. The moment to begin the rite was there.
Veit ek, at ek hekk vindga meiði ánætr allar níu, geiri undaðr ok gefinn Óðni, sjálfr sjálfum mér, á þeim meiði, er mangi veit, hvers hann af rótum renn. Við hleifi mik sældu né við hornigi, nysta ek niðr; nam ek upp rúnar, œpandi nam, fell ek aptr þaðan.
There are no words to fully describe what went through my consciousness as I did the rite. My whole being was energized. I experienced that runes opened in their mysteries to my consciousness, being patterns of my consciousness. I linked my Work with that of the Rune-Gild. I greeted Óðinn with my whole being and dedicated myself to my Work in the Gild.
It was a windy, cold, and somewhat rainy morning too. Some locals who did jogging or had went out to walk their dogs did see me standing with my drinking horn on top of the two mounds where I did the rite. I finished the rite on Óðinn's mound and signed the rite form there. So it was done, and so it had begun.
I did some walking in the surroundings and saw the mounds once more before visiting Odinsborg café next to the mounds, then taking a bus back to new Uppsala. I wrote few cards at the railwaystation before getting my train to Stockholm.
I spent the rest of the day mostly at old Stockholm. I walked a lot and thought about runes, the Gild, and my initiation in general. I visited shops and cáfes. I enjoyed Stockholm's atmosphere and practising some Swedish. When the evening finally arrived and I was able to crash into Viking Line Amorella's cabin number 6213, I knew I had a wonderful day. I had joined the Rune-Gild, and I had done so with a very appropriate rite of passage.
Reyn til Rûna.


Anonymous Joan said...

A lovely account of your 'rite of passage'. Thanks for sharing it!

4:26 am  
Blogger Tapio Kotkavuori said...

Dear Joan,

thanks for the comment! :-)


2:09 pm  
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