There is no sound more primal, more bone chilling, than the howl of a wolf. The hair on the back of your neck stands on end and you pass through the veil into an ancient realm, the foreboding gloom of the Iron Wood, home of Angrboda, Chieftess of the Wolf Clan. She is howling for her children. It was here in the undulating oak forest, muck oozing from the ground, that the shape-shifting Angrboda, skin tattooed with ink and battle scars, made love to the Trickster Loki. In their lustful, intense, all-consuming coupling they created magic in the dark and what she birthed, she loved but no one else did.
She was cruelly deceived by the high gods who lured her away from her children with a lie. They burned her until only her charred heart remained in the ashes. Yet she lives. Nothing is as it seems. This is the rune Ac.
Angrboda howls for her half-rotted corpse daughter Hela, who dragged herself along to the gates of Helheim to wait for her mother.
She howls for her wolf son Fenrir, cruelly chained by Odin and his cronies.
And she weeps tears that mix with the waters that surround Midgard, the prison home of her serpent child Jormungand.
How does it feel to give birth to children, to beings, to things that are feared, hated and despised?
How does it feel to know you have brought forth the inevitable, the chaos, destruction and death that even the gods can’t avoid?
Ac is also the mighty oak, thousands of years old, which stands guard at the entrance of Angrboda’s home. Ac shows me the blinding flash of lightning that strikes the tree and I hear the crack as it splits apart and ignites, its heartwood burst open. The wisdom it reveals is the wisdom of life. Terrible monstrosities exist. They must be birthed, the necessity of destruction in order for life to continue.
Sometimes I ponder the question, what role does the oak tree serve when it diverts the lightning strike of Thor that would otherwise have struck his mother Jord, she who is the earth giantess?
title Photo by Amaury Gutierrez on Unsplash