Below is the fascinating account of how Alver Hviti found his path to the gods. To people in the East there would be nothing strange about this story but in the West people have been blinded to the reality of these kinds of experiences. Fortunately many are finally waking up and rediscovering the beliefs of our ancestors. Enjoy.
It is said that a path which has nothing to teach us, is a path not worth following.
It was following this philosophy that I departed my childhood absence of faith, having grown as an atheist and undergone a long, hard path until I found myself following the faith my ancestors had abandoned almost a thousand years ago.
As a child, back in Switzerland, I always had a strange fascination with snow. I couldn’t help to run to it – usually without snow cloths much to my mother’s dismay – or to eat the snow flakes, dance to the wind carrying them or just contemplating the moonlight over the fluffy whiteness covering my large backyard. Such communion with such harsh, yet sweet element, wasn’t lonely, even though at that time, my family would not understand when I would tell them I could see and feel two distinct presences near me which I could not name.
Fast forward a few years: I, now a young adult of 25 years of age, with a long, lengthy and tortured faith search path under my belt, embittered by the recurrent failure of the one and only thing I ever asked for myself to the Gods for the past 20 years, just finishing carving a small pendant out of cedar wood for my sister. In it’s face lies now the small figure of an archer with skis on his feet and the rune eihwaz on it’s reverse.
Despite my previous and rather short stint as a heathen, I had never heard of that deity before my sister asked me to make her a “portable shrine” for the god Ullr. No matter what I searched, nothing would show up so I let it go, or so I thought until I felt a sudden urge to have a similar one for myself. Carefully, I carved it and it was carrying them that Chris and I went to a snow trip in January, burying them in the snow to soak in it’s energy and dedicating them to the obscure deity whom my research referred to as the God of “Skiing, Archery and Honor”.
It didn’t take long for the God to poke their way again in my life. Somehow after that, I kept stumbling upon pages relating to Ullr and Nordic shamanism, the later being something close to what laced my religious practice since my early childhood. After accidentally going into Raven Caldera’s online shrine for Ullr for the third time in two days, I final decided to light a candle, asking for a colder winter, and snow in my garden. It didn’t take long for the prayer to be answered and it was with a joyful bout of adrenaline that two days later I jumped out of the bed at dawn as my father knocked at the door to tell me to look out the window. It was February and the winter had barely cooled until then. And living where I live, 2 kilometers away from the ocean in a south Mediterranean country, that little amount of snow….should be impossible. It was then that the revelation hit.
A few days later, there I was in my freezing room – how stupid of me…asking for the coldest winter in almost a decade when all the heating in the house is malfunctioning – beating with a long staff covered in runes, crystals, raven feathers and colorful strips of cloth at a set cadence as I whirred in the same spot, a focus on my mind alone. I was following some extremely vague pointers I had found on Seidr, an ancient Nordic shamanic practice, mixed with Sufi dervish dancing which I had learned earlier during my stint as a Sufi.
There was not enough data for me to know this unknown God who favored me, both by sending me snow when I asked and whom by now I suspected to be one of the figures who watched over me as a child. It was rather clear to me that, if I wanted to know Him, I would have to go out to meet him. And what better than following my gut? I spun and spun and spun until my body turned to lead and fell, releasing my soul who took flight, turned into a hawk, leaving Midgard and soaring in the branches of Yggdrasil, then falling in a predatory fall towards Vanaheim, landing with a small flip as I stopped being an eagle to become something closer to myself. In front of me, a blond, radiant lady smiled, curling her hair with one hand and playing with an amber pendant on her neck as the gentle breeze ruffled her deep emerald dress.
“Oh, an unexpected guest….how amusing. And using my arts? Tell me, child, what do you seek, and I shall point you to your way.”
Recognizing Lady Freya, I bowed deeply, and muttered, asking where could I find The Archer in Skies.
“You mean the Master of Ydalir? Try finding him in the White Woods, near the Ice Queen’s embrace.” she smiled, before kissing me in the forehead “Beware of the wolves, young hunter, they may not be what you expect, nor what you are ready for.”
Saying this, she pointed towards the edge of the clearing, then disappeared, her vanishing radiance leaving the place less bright.
Following her directions, soon I disappeared into the woods, seeing the birch and aspen trees turning to tall, bleached pines, the fruitful lingonberry shrubs replaced by shadowy, frozen versions of themselves as the floor started to become covered in snow. Distantly, a blood-freezing howl cut the air as I kept going, crossing a dark, frozen river, then taking off running as I dealt the wolves closing in.
Running. To no avail, as a powerful, enormous white wolf cut off my escape, staring majestically at me as the others approached. Hesitant of turning my back to it, I tried to circle around, finding myself surrounded by black wolves, lead by a giantess carrying a spear.
“Little one, so lost away from home…” she mused in a thin, sinister voice laced with amusement “Did not your mother told you not to play with wolves?”
“Let him be, Armylgr.” A chilling voice, reminding me of the angry winds that blew outside when I prepared my ritual “You are not in your land. Now leave, and take your children, or face the consequences.”
“The little one is mine. We saw it first Skadi!” the dark giantess howled, right before the colossal white wolf pounced over her, growling as the black wolf pack scattered, leaving me an opening to escape and disappear further into the woods, finding a small leather tent pitched next to a creek, a small fire kept lit as the tent’s owner was busy making arrows.
Deep inside my being, I knew who he was, but I couldn’t speak. I crouched in front of him, studying his face, then equipment, being greeted with a warm smile and a nod of understanding.
“Took you a while to find your way, did it not?” his eyes seemed to say right before I felt pulled back to Midgard and my body, waking up spread eagle in the middle of the mat as my mother pounded at the door, worried with the noise I did as my body impacted against the floor.
Since then I feel close to Ullr and Skadi. I have taken up “primitive” archery as a self taught in a way to honor them, practicing almost daily whilst occasionally asking for help, then feeling gentle hands guiding my arrows. Archery needs supplies beyond a bow and arrows, like gloves and a quiver. All expensive things, specially for those who use a Mongolian bow. So, as a form of honoring my patrons, I took upon making those myself as well. After asking for aid, somehow, a pattern for an archery glove appeared on my documents, and when it came for the quiver to be made…..well, let’s just say no tutorial was followed, nor scrapped prototype was made.
The Gods sometimes choose us, mortals, any of us. After a thousand years of oblivion, they do not wish to be silent anymore. To be called is to keep them from being forgotten, like Ullr once told me “Mankind these days, has a notoriously short memory.” They can touch everything in out lives, dissolve the barrier between sacred space and common space like in the ancient times, and show us how to solve things other ways seem impossible.
This was my journey to meet the Gods, a shamanic journey that melted my boundaries between sacred and profane, and made me establish a relationship with Ullr, the Archer on Skis and Lord of Oaths. And for this journey and it’s outcome, I am eternally grateful.