The Sacred Centre: Practical Wodenism in Light of Tradition

OUR preoccupation with the significance of the Centre has lasted for millennia. One thinks of the legends of Agartha and Shamballah or the fantastic stories of the French novelist, Jules Verne. There is nothing quite like a fresh start or a new beginning and our ancestors frequently expressed this desire to wipe clean the proverbial slate, so to speak, by creating unique cosmological points of spiritual convergence.

For Wodenists, of course, the Irminsul or World Pillar is the central mainstay of our North European heritage and a key to all Nine Worlds of the Yggdrasil. Indeed, Charlemagne and his Papist minions knew all about the vast significance of the Irminsul and even went so far as to chop down a mighty Saxon oak that had long been considered to represent the exact Centre of the Wodenic cosmos. But there have been many such centres around the world and right here in England we have several locations which each claim to mark the Sacred Centre of our land. These include Midland Oak at Lillington, an old stone cross in the Warwickshire village of Meriden, Royston in Hertfordshire, Banbury Cross in Oxfordshire, the Cross Shaft at Dunstable and, during the Roman occupation, the High Cross at Venonae.

Each one of these locations seems to fulfil the rough geographical requirements discussed by John Michell in At the Centre of the World: Polar Symbolism Discovered in Celtic, Norse and Other Ritualised Landscapes (Thames & Hudson, 1994), but surely the fact that we have a whole plethora of sacred centres implies that the vast majority are fraudulent and that only one Centre can be truly genuine? On the contrary, this view is incorrect because there can by hundreds – nay, thousands – of potential Centres, as I hope to demonstrate during the course of this article.

The similarities between our native Anglo-Saxon-Viking mythology and the comparatively more ancient aspects of Indo-European spirituality, most notably Hinduism and Buddhism, have already been explored elsewhere. For most people, however, anything which emanates from the East is instantly viewed with suspicion or perceived as being totally at odds with the European mind-set, but prior to these religions being taken on by Asiatic peoples, they were deeply Aryan in character and, at the very least, remain part of our collective psyche.

Indeed, whilst most contemporary religions are little more than profane expressions of a much more significant and enduring Tradition, i.e. the sophia perennis, there are important cross-over points where the myths and legends of each suggest a common or unitary origin. In academic circles, these convergences are studied in accordance with the field of Comparative Religion, with the world’s leading authority being the late Romanian scholar, Mircea Eliade (1907-1986).

The Centre and Symbolism

In The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton, 1954), Eliade discusses the architectronic symbolism of the Centre. This includes sacred mountains like Mount Meru in Hindu legend, the Mount of the Lands in Mesopatamia and Mount Tabor in Palestine, all of which denote the Centre of the world. There are holy palaces and temples like those in Ancient Babylon, connected to a divine monarch and actually functioning as a mirror of the Cosmos. Finally, there is what is known as the axis mundi, or place where the heavens above meet with the earth below in a kind of supernatural intersection. But at the root of all these interpretations is the notion that the universe or, perhaps certain aspects of the universe, are being reflected on the earth. Not as a token ‘brick-to-lego’ interpretation, of course, but in terms of actually recreating and reconstructing the Divine.

Indeed, Eliade refers to this as the ‘repetition of the cosmogony’, which means that the Divine is becoming manifest on a smaller scale. The macrocosm in the microcosm or, to use the well-known Hermetic maxim: ‘As above, so below.’ Once again, not as a worthless simulation, but as a metaphysical display of timeless fidelity and perpetuation. In other words, each time this process takes place the actual Creation of the world is repeated once again at that very moment. It is rather like the difference between the Catholic and Anglican churches, in that for the Catholics, each time the Holy Mass is celebrated Christ actually appears right then and there on the altar and that it is a direct repetition – as opposed to commemoration – of the events that are said to have taken place at the Last Supper.

I am not going to discuss the shortcomings of Christianity here, we know only too well how Catholics have appropriated an entire multitude of Heathen aspects and this is just another example of the primordial or Traditionalist undercurrent that I mentioned above. Sometimes, of course, it is possible to detect or unearth Traditional fragments within the realms of the spiritually profane, but it is essential for readers to appreciate the fact that creating new Centres – if done properly – is an act worthy of the Gods themselves. Eliade continues:

“The Centre, then, is pre-eminently the zone of the sacred, the zone of absolute reality. Similarly, all other symbols of absolute reality (trees or life and immortality, Fountains of Youth etc.) are also situated at a centre. The road leading to the centre is a “difficult road”, and this is verified at every level of reality: different convolutions of a temple (as at Borobdur); pilgrimage to sacred places (Mecca, Hardwar, Jerusalem); danger-ridden voyages of the heroic expeditions in search of the Golden Fleece, the Golden Apples, the Herb of Life; wanderings in labyrinths; difficulties of the seeker for the road to the self, to the “centre” of his being, and so on. The road is arduous, fraught with perils, because it is, in fact, a rite of the passage from the profane to the sacred, from the ephemeral and illusory to reality and eternity, from death to life, from man to the divinity. Attaining the centre is equivalent to a consecration, an initiation; yesterday’s profane and illusory existence gives place to a new, to a life that is real, enduring, and effective.” [1]

This process, in the words of the Satapatha Brahmana, must involve a Divine model, or archetype: ‘We must do what the Gods did in the beginning.'[2] The creation of the Centre itself represents the ritualised pursuit of cosmological unity and balance.

The Centre and Wodenism

As Traditionalists, therefore, with a distinctly Wodenist spiritual heritage, we are interested in creating new Centres in accordance with our Anglo-Saxon gods and heroes. The Primordial Tradition itself, like a perennial flame, continues to burn deep within our folk-soul and can help us in the quest to rediscover the esoteric symbolism that still dwells within the collective unconscious.

In Hinduism there are three gods of the Trinity (Trimurti), two of whom are Shiva and Vishnu. The third, being Brahma, is the god of creation and rides a White Swan. He is shown with four heads, each bearing a different face. I don’t intend to discuss the myths surrounding Brahma here, suffice it to say that Brahma himself – as an Aryan archetype – does still have an important bearing on the creation of a new Centre for our English folk.

After Ragnarok, there will be four key gods involved in the process of leading us into a new Golden Age (Satya Yuga). These will be Woden’s son, Widar the Silent, who will avenge his father’s death by ripping apart the ferocious jaws of the Fenrir Wolf; his brother, Wali, who will be responsible for the death of Hodur; and Thor’s two sons, Modi and Magni. I believe that these represent the four aspects of re-creation as expressed in the multi-headed symbolism of Brahma. Meanwhile, the important task undertaken by Widar, Wali, Modi and Magni will be to re-create a new Centre in the wake of much chaos and destruction. The four aspects of Brahma will become manifest as the four conquering heroes of Asgard and will go on to replenish the Nine Worlds and create a new social order in Midgard (Earth). Their role is certainly more vital than ours, but the Brahma symbolism inherent in the Widar-Wali-Modi-Magni quartet can be useful when creating new Centres that essential mirror the post-Ragnarok era in a realistic, practical and ritualistic sense.

The Centre in Practice

Some authors have already presented details relating to the basic principles of what is known as the Cosmic Axis Rite and there is no difference between this and Eliade’s ‘repetition of the cosmogony’. What follows is a ritual that I have devised in accordance with the Divine quartet mentioned above. Firstly, however, it is necessary to create some magickal space for yourself by consecrating a specific area in which you intend to work. The name for this area is a Ve and the ritual is best performed outdoors at either a sacred site or a place of personal significance where you won’t be disturbed. You are about to make a circle in which to perform the more important rituals later on. Nigel Pennick’s ever-useful Rune Magic (Aquarian, 1993) suggests using holy water taken from a sacred well, some incense and a rune-staff, but rather than cover exactly the same ground as Pennick himself I urge readers to acquaint themselves with the aforementioned text and then move on to the following Wodenic ritual which I have designed to specifically represent the creation of a new Centre.

Once you have purified the Ve, or magickal space, you should grasp the runic wand or staff in your right hand and imagine that you are enclosed within a circular field of energy. You should be able to feel the power of Ond, or Divine Breath of Life, coursing through your body. Now, conjure up in your mind the four transcendent ‘Grail’ runes of the Anglo-Saxon Futhork; namely Cweorth (fire-twirl), Calc (chalice), Stan (stone) and Gar (spear). Remembering the four surviving faces of Brahma or, in this case, the four surviving gods of Ragnarok, you must now create the Cosmic Axis that will form the Centre.

1. Face North, raise your staff and visualise the Gar rune whilst saying the following:

Great Widar, hooded hero of Ing-Land, who slew the Wolf Fenrir and took unto Himself the revived essence of the All-Father, be our Protector in the North. The Gar will become our Spear of Destiny.”

2. Now turn towards the East and focus on the Stan rune, whilst saying:

Great Wali, son of Rinder, who slew Hodur the Blind and thus avenged the death of Balder, be our Protector in the East. The Stan will reveal our destiny.”

3. Then face South and think about the Calc rune:

Great Modi, embodiment of Anger and son of Thor the Giant-Slayer, be our Protector in the South. The Calc will spur us on in our quest.”

4. Finally, turn to the West, concentrate on the Cweorth rune and say:

Great Magni, embodiment of Strength and Bearer of Mjollnir, be our Protector in the West. The Cweorth will be our Guiding Light.”

When you have completed this ritual, gently lower your rune-staff and bring it to rest on the ground beside you. By this stage, you have not merely consecrated the Ve, you have gone on to re-create your own Centre. This is the ‘repetition of the cosmogony’ and a mirror-image of the active renewal that will take place in the wake of Ragnarok. The Wodenist magician now stands at the very heart of the Universe. It matters not whether he is physically, mathematically or geographically at the Centre, the Cosmic Axis Rite is a transcendent method that places man completely outside of time and space. Again, Eliade explains:

“As the first step, the “reality” of the site is secured through consecration of the ground, i.e. through its transformation into a centre; then the validity of the act of construction is confirmed by repetition of the divine sacrifice. Naturally, the consecration of the centre occurs in a space qualitatively different from profane space. Through the paradox of rite, every consecrated space coincides with the centre of the world, just as the time of any ritual coincides with the mythical time of the “beginning”. Through repetition of the cosmogonic act, concrete time, in which the construction takes place, is projected into mythical time, in illo tempore, when the foundation of the world occurred. Thus the reality and the enduringness of a construction are assured not only by the transformation of profane space into a transcendent space (the centre) but also by the transformation of concrete time into mythical time.” [3]

My own ritual, of course, is based on the re-creation of the worlds after Ragnarok, but there is nothing to prevent us from performing the same process in repetition of the original Wodenic creation at the beginning of the world. The characters will be different, naturally, but the objective will be the same. I shall leave you with these words from John Michell:

The essence of an individual, one’s centre and citadel, is the mind. But it is not the ultimate centre, and if you think it so you are properly called self-centred and a solipsist. In that case, life’s greater realities pass you by. [4]

Notes:

1. Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton, 1954), p. 18.

2. Satapatha Brahmana, VII, 2, 1, 4.

3. Mircea Eliade, Ibid., pp. 20-1.

4. John Michell, At the Centre of the World: Polar Symbolism Discovered in Celtic, Norse and Other Ritualised Landscapes (Thames & Hudson, 1994), p. 7.

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