Ratatosk Tells a Tale

“Do you think I was alone
when I hung on that windswept
tree nine nights, spear-heavy,
a sacrifice unto myself?”

“Never.”

“Frigga was my altar.”

Images flow through my mind of a young Odin, drenched in blood and wolfskins, Ratatosk at his shoulder as he drives his spear into the carrion of the slain, choosing only the choicest bits to go to Valhalla. The Valkyries carry away the Einherjar in a wine-dark ascendancy in sulfur skies.

The Alfather hangs from a yew. Ratatosk nibbles his one eye. The other is closed, turned inwards, meditative even. The globe of blue and blood will fall into a well, for squirrels plant seeds, and you can drink the gore from and know what Frigga sees from the High Seat, but it will cost you your life, and your tongue.

All it took was the beat of the buffalo drum, and I was under, swimming in a trance as my soul traveled the three upon threefold path. It’s a Valknut, it’s the ladder of runes, it’s just a poem. Yggdrasil blossomed and froze and all there was was the Light Elves, the Dark Elves, Freyr – or was it Balder? – being buried by the squirrel with curling golden locks, pale as death, to fructify the Earth.

“I am the Tree.”

“I am its guardian.”

“I plant seeds of Yggdrasil through all the Nine Worlds.”

Squirrels never shut up, do they? Neither do I. Perhaps the first poet was a squirrel spinning a story over a newly born sprout, urging it to grow, for though fierce and silly, Ratatosk is a gardener.

He chitters in my ear. The Blue Heron comes and says: impatience, but it is not my message. I get Odin again and again. Pretty soon I’ll be singing Ansuz and firing witchlight from my palms.

The visions soften, I awaken, but the Tree is still sentinel over my wanderings.

The drum stills.

Behind every regent, a powerful woman. Behind every warrior, a witch. Behind every dead man, animals planting their corpses into new life in another world. Behind every king, a queen he worships.

But I could just be bullshitting, for I am a squirrel.

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