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The Legacy of Robert Cochrane

For Robert Cochrane 1931-1966 --
Od’s Man: A Dedication to the Fallen

by Shani Oates

[Hollander Translation]

138) I wot that I hung on the wind-tossed tree
all of nights nine,
wounded by spear, bespoken to Óthin,
bespoken myself to myself,
[upon that tree of which none telleth
from what roots it doth rise] (1)

The poetic motif presents advice, proper conduct and wisdom for the living. Hávamál speaks to the intellect and to the deep mind of practical and metaphysical in things. Following on from the "Hávamál proper" the Rúnatal follows giving an account of Odin’s victory, how he sought and won the runes, and with them their application in the Ljóðatal, which is a list of magic chants or spells.

Rúnatal or Óðins Rune Song, Rúnatáls-þáttr-Óðins (stanzas 138-146) is a section of the Hávamál where Odin reveals the origins of the runes. In stanzas 138 and 139, Odin describes his sacrifice of himself to himself:

Veit ec at ec hecc vindga meiði a
netr allar nío,
geiri vndaþr oc gefinn Oðni,
sialfr sialfom mer,
a þeim meiþi, er mangi veit, hvers hann af rótom renn

I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.

Við hleifi mic seldo ne viþ hornigi,
nysta ec niþr,
nam ec vp rvnar,
opandi nam,
fell ec aptr þaðan.

No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered;
I took up the runes, screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there. (2)

Yggdrasil, the world tree, of wisdom, life and death is commonly thought to be the "windy tree" from which the victim is hung [not hanged].

Havamal  may be viewed as mystical text and the narrative stresses Odinn’s  self sacrifice on Yggdrasil,  linking his knowledge with life, death and initiatory trial by ordeal. A narrative interpreted as relating to sacrifice and initiation. Within this sequence, which begins with the seeker, the victim himself becomes the beneficiary.

“The seeker of knowledge moves from the bondage of ignorance, through atonement towards awakening into the light of knowledge.”(3)

139) 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 fell again.

A similar process may be found in another ordeal undertaken by Odinn, this time in Grimnismal, where  Odinn is again bound (Fetter breaker, Havamal 149), and after retrieving another prize, this time the ‘mead’ he is given the insight and eloquence to expound wisdom. The three vats of mead in in Snorri’s translation reveal an interesting pattern.

  1. Bodn- a drinking container, also the underworld and has been interpreted as the restraint of death.
  2. Son- atonement.
  3. Othroerir- vital spirit, a rebirth into a more vital productive life.(4) [my emphasis].

140) From the son of Bolthorn, Bestla's father, 
I mastered mighty songs nine,
and a drink I had, of the dearest mead,
got from out of Óthrærir.

141) Then began I to grow and gain in insight,
to wax eke in wisdom:
One verse led on to another verse,
one poem led on to the other poem.

142) Runes wilt thou find, and rightly read,
of wondrous weight,
of mighty magic,
which that dyed the dread God,
which that made the holy hosts,
and were etched by Óthin.

143) Óthin among Æsir, for alfs, Dain,
Dvalin for the dwarfs,
Alsvith among etins, (but for earth-borne men)
wrought I some myself.

144) Know'st how to write, know'st how to read,
know'st how to stain, how to understand,
know'st how to ask, know'st how to offer,
know'st how to supplicate, know'st how to sacrifice?

145) 'Tis better unasked than offered overmuch;
for ay doth a gift look for gain;
'tis better unasked than offered overmuch:
thus did Óthin write ere the earth began,
when up he rose in after time.

165) Now are Hár's sayings spoken in Hár's hall,
of help to the sons of men,
of harm to the sons of etins;
hail to whoever spoke them, hail to whoever knows them!
Gain they who grasp them,
happy they who heed them! (5)

And so this poem ends cogently with the hints of those insights as keys for others to follow. He guides and inspires through his poetic visioning wrought through language and rich metaphor. Teacher, guide, trickster, poet and ‘vitki,’ all titles that slip easily over the frame of Robert Cochrane. One and the same- both as one!

For the nine nights and days he hung in that liminal place, twixt death and life, on the Tree of his World, may Odhin have granted him the three gifts, above.

It is not without synchronicity and import that phenomenal portents will raze in the celestial arc during the next few days, paralleling the days over which, 44 years ago Robert Cochrane after taking his own life, lay poised for nine days and nights until She called him home again. My initial impressions are that this is of immense significance to those who still read celestial and stellar omens. This is, I believe, surely a tide of startling import.

Musing over the singularity of this event, the faerie moon [Cain] in Capricorn [the goat fish/old young horn kings] the line of seven planets [angelic potencies/watchers/generations] the grand cross [all father] partial eclipse [veil -shekinah] and the herald himself, the green comet appearing this once and never again, denotes to me, the Viridiant Spirit of Gnosis returning.

It is also noteworthy that it is seven years since E. J. Jones passed into spirit. Another cycle completed. Nothing is in isolation and nothing affects only one plane or realm. Nothing is forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten...

1 http://www.chronarchy.com/runes/havamaly.html
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hávamál
3 http://www.runegild.org/pq_havamal.html
4 http://www.runegild.org/pq_havamal.html
5 http://www.chronarchy.com/runes/havamaly.html