Friday, 9 February 2018

Fasting as a Religious Concept

'I wot that I hung on the wind-tossed tree
     all of nights nine,
Wounded by spear, bespoken to Woden,
     bespoken myself to myself,
upon that tree of which none telleth
     from what roots it doth rise.

Neither horn they upheld nor handed me bread;
     I looked below me -
     aloud I cried -
caught up the runes, caught them up wailing,
     thence to the ground I fell.'

This passage refers to a Shamanic Initiation in which Woden rediscovers the most Ancient Runes. The piece that concerns us here is -

'Neither horn they upheld nor handed me bread....'

Woden hung in a self-sacrifice, himself given to himself, and during this he neither ate nor drank - he fasted. The three important points are that he suffered through having no drink, nothing to eat, and pain through being pierced with his spear. The obvious parallels to Christ hanging on the Cross will not concern us here, nonetheless they point to a more ancient figure of Krist which existed before the archetype was distorted.

This post is a reply to Steed's comment on the last post, whether fasting should be part of our religion, as it forms part of other religions. I see no reason why fasting should not form part of Folkish Wodenism, so long as it is part of the Esoteric Religion rather than something that has to be done on a regular basis as part of an Exoteric Religion. Fasting can form part of the training of an individual, down to the individual, and as part of the training of the Will; it takes a lot of will-power to stop eating. It can, of course, be done for health reasons, and again that is down to the individual. 

That it formed part of the Shamanic Initiation above is obvious, and this is clearly part of any Esoteric Religion. Here neither bread (food) nor mead (liquid) is drunk; pain is also involved as well as the hanging from the tree itself, which cannot be anything but uncomfortable. A period of nine nights would certainly have ended with some kind of 'religious experience' or 'mystical experience'. 

The use of fasting is down to the individual, and would be very useful when taken up as part of a training period; the health uses should be a subject of individual experiment since what goes for one individual may not go for another - everyone being unequal before Nature. Taking one day of the week to fast may start to bring some kind of change in health; 'religious experiences' are a different matter and anyone who tries experimenting on this path should first make sure they are healthy enough to go about it. 

As an aside to this I have suffered since a child with psoriasis and nothing has actually got rid of it; about a year ago I was forced to fast for four days because of a stomach bug, and after the four days the psoriasis had disappeared. Although this ailment is supposed to be linked to an 'over-active immune system' it would seem obvious that there could also be a link to food, or something put into our food. Unfortunately, having found a 'cure' where others have failed, the practicabilities of not eating at all are not too favourable, and a 'sword-death' would be better in any case. It was also the case that it came back again after I started eating. Back to the drawing-board!

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