Odin and the Asatruar
One mild day in a small city in Midgard two men sat by a bus stop. Both were nondescript to the casual observer. One wore a grey buttoned shirt with no tie, the top two buttons open, revealing the black t-shirt underneath. A pair of khaki trousers, a bit dirty at the knees, and a pair of smart black sneakers attired his lower half. He wore a watch and had a small silver pendant in the shape of a hammer highlighted against the black field of his undershirt. He glanced around furtively looking for the bus, knowing it would not arrive for some time, but something was making him feel uneasy.
His companion looked anything but uneasy. He leaned back casually on the bench, the cuffs of his worn blue jeans wavered slightly in the breeze. He wore a Minnesota Vikings football sweatshirt, which likewise looked somewhat worn, and the shadow cast by his large hat came down over his grey beard to the tips of the horns of the figure depicted on his sweatshirt. His shoes looked like a cross between sneakers and boots, with a thin layer of mud caked on them. He seemed to be slightly enjoying the other man's apparent discomfort as he toyed with the walking stick that he held close by his side.
"So," said the man in the Vikings sweatshirt, "nice day, huh?"
"Uh, yeah," said the other man, looking for all the world like someone had just shaken him abruptly from a sound sleep.
"So what's your name?" inquired the grey bearded man.
"Knott...," said the other man, hoping this last verbal exchange would satisfy his oddly disquieting companion, "Reilly Knott."
"Interesting name," said the other man, "I couldn't help but notice your necklace there. It mean anything special or you just get it for its looks?"
Reilly stammered, he hated being asked this question, though it wasn't the first time it had been fielded, "Well... it's..uh... kind of a spiritual thing."
"Ah," said the other man, "sorta.. new age, that sort of thing?"
"Yeah," said Knott, noticing for the first time that one of the other man's eyes did not track properly, probably a glass eye, "kinda like that, it's... it's based on the old Scandinavian religion."
"Ah," said the other man, "you mean like with Thor and Freyr and all of those Old Gods?"
"Yeah," said Reilly, somewhat relieved that he might not need to explain his beliefs to another wide eyed, slack jawed face which regarded him as if he had a fish growing out of his head, "you know about them?"
"Oh, I think I took a course on them back in college," said the other man, he winked with his good eye, the other staring at Reilly implacably and intractably. "So I bet you know all about their history and everything."
"Oh yeah," flushed Reilly, this was a conversation he could have. He'd spent months studying the Old Lore and reading Sagas, longer still cruising the net and snapping up any tidbits of opinion he could lay his mind on. He was a great bursting bag of lore, study and academia. "I know quite a bit about the mythology and history."
The other man seemed bemused. "Well..." he said pulling out a brown paper bag from where Reilly could not see, "So you'd know the name of Freyr's boat then, would you?" He opened the bag and from it cast some cracked corn on the ground as he waited for his answer.
"Oh yeah," beamed Reilly, as two large black birds drifted down and began pecking at the proffered corn on the pavement, "Skidbladnir is Freyr's boat."
The other man frowned slightly as if he had been expecting a more embellished answer, but then he grunted and continued, "and I suppose you'd know the name of Thor's hammer?"
"Mjollnir" punctuated Knott.
"And who made it?"
"The dwarf smiths Brokk and Eitri."
"And I suppose you know the name of the World which burns like fire?" mused the glass eyed man.
"Oh yeah, that's Muspellheim", said Reilly he was getting into this, it was cool to talk to someone who actually knew a thing or two about the lore.
"And the world of freezing mist?" asked the other man, the brevity and quick pace of the replies he was getting still seeming to grate on him. One of the black birds croaked.
"Niflheim", said Reilly
"So what's the name of the place where the last battle will take place?"
"And the name of Njord's wife?"
"And you know what I mean if I say the Sayings of Har?"
Reilly thought for a moment, "The Havamal."
"Well you really do know your stuff," said the grey bearded man, "My old teacher Mr. Wellman would really have been put to shame if you'd been in his class. So you into the actual Gods as well as the mythology?"
"Yeah," replied Reilly, suddenly uncomfortable that the conversation had switched from a simple quoting of knowledge and back to his beliefs, "it's a faith called Asatru based on the Old Gods and such."
"Well that sounds pretty cool, son," said the grey bearded man, "so I've got one last question for you." Reilly looked at the grey bearded man and as he did both ravens below glanced up expectantly. Reilly's vision went a little off and he seemed to see the glass eye go black as pitch until it looked like it wasn't even there. The tip of the man's walking stick shimmered like bright metal and the glare made the sweatshirt seem for all the world like a vaguely blue travelling cloak. "Who am I?"
Reilly shook his head and blinked several times "Sorry," he said, "spaced out there for a few moments. I, uh... don't know you, we've only just met."
The grey bearded man in the Vikings sweatshirt frowned and looked disappointed. "I guess not, kid," said the man standing up and picking up his walking stick. "Well, I gotta go. Watch out for all those books and articles, kid, you read into all the scholastic stuff too long and you'll go blind."
"Yeah, maybe," Reilly Knott said with a few fake chuckles, as the one eyed man walked away. He did not even notice as the two ravens took wing and followed him into the distance.
by Matthias Wilson