Last night I finished reading an exquisitely beautiful book, Thomas the Rhymer, by Ellen Kushner. As I read the book (for the third time), it struck me just how much the theme parallels my own life. In my mind, it is in these myths that replay themselves out in the lives of people, generation after generation, that the “Old Gods” live on.
I think of the Old Gods as deities whose powers are tied up in story. And that story repeats itself in the lives of humans, shifting and changing with each retelling as good story does, but retaining its core essence. Because I use the word “story”, it isn’t to say the Old Gods aren’t real. They are very real. They have been and always will be.
The most tangible gods to me are the forces of Nature: the wind, sun, moon, Earth, ocean, winter storms, and the rush of Spring growth. The Old Gods are not so different. They are forces of Nature that run through the human collective. Though we may give them different names, they are energies that play out in the lives of people around the globe. Although our tribes are scattered, similar life themes are found in all of them. For example, the journey of Persephone to the Underworld can be found in similar myths from many cultures. It is through experiencing the ancient energies that influence and give theme to our personal journey, the power of the Old Gods are felt, the story renewed.
There is a definite power in these tales, in the myths of old, the stories of our ancestors and the gods. It is the gift and power of the Bard to retell the tales of old so that each of us, in that moment, hear and feel and identify with it. The story doesn’t just mirror our story. It is our story!
By delving into the old myths, we learn to understand ourselves better, we gain insight in to our ancestors, our heritage, and our own humanity. We attune to and feel more deeply the currents of energy that shape our life. Learning the ways of Nature, we gain wisdom and insight. Most importantly though, we must live powerfully, embracing the tale that has become our own, awakening to the energies at play. In the living of the tale, we touch the gods. The power of the Old Gods flows through our own life story. We experience the power of deity and in that moment, we are filled with awen. We drink once again from the chalice that is at once Cerridwen’s cauldron, the Holy Grail and the Sacred Well. We eat the fruit of the Tree of Life – the Old Gods gracing our journey, together we find the divine inspiration that flows when soul touches soul in truth.
So in honor of the Old Gods that have touched me, shared their wisdom and gifted me with inspiration, I say, “Hail to the Gods of our people, to the Gods of old. Hail to the Queen of Fey, dark mistress of magic. Hail to the forest God, Jack O’ the Green. May we always find you. May your songs be sung. May your stories live on!”