First some appropriate music.
Some time ago I did something I am not very good at; I made up a story and wrote what was intended to be a fairy tale intended for children, and was even happy with the result. If I had been able to I would have done this more often, and ideally I would be doing that instead of making music – the latter I do only because it is all I know, and apparently because that is what I am intended to do.
The story in question was called Perþ, and it is named after a rune sign. The name translates as “journey”, mainly of a spiritual kind, of man travelling up or down between the realms of man and spirits. I don’t remember exactly when I wrote it, but it must have been some time in the mid to late 1990ies, and I wrote it in Norwegian. It was then translated to English by Vidar Ermesjø and published on burzum.org I think in 2003 or 2004. Mr. Ermesjø did a good job translating it, but I have still gone through the text and made some improvements and corrections, and wish to share with you this short fairy tale. I hope that if I ever grow old I will be able to sit down in a study, in peace and quiet, and produce more such fairy tales. I enjoy them very much, and do believe they are valuable.
For now, this is all I have. A short fairy tale called Perþ. Listen carefully….
Once upon a time, in another world and another place out there in space…
I was young and curious, sought and searched for answers to the most unbelievable questions. I grew up in a noble family and was educated to become a knight. I travelled far and searched for honour and fame – like all knights do. I found both, but I never found happiness. There was too much injustice and cruelty out there for me to be happy. Only fools are happy.
Famous and honoured as I was, I thought it my duty to end all injustice in the world. I knew the gods were behind this and therefore decided that I should find them and demand answers to why they were so cruel and unfair. Why they let young boys get cut down on the fields of battle; why they let innocent infants die of disease in the crib; why they let plague and sickness ravage; why they let some live like slaves their whole life, only to die filthy and old in their beds. Why were they so cruel?
With my big headed ego I therefore one early morning trampled down to the most wise man in my home-town. I hammered impudent on the door with an iron glove and announced loud and clear that I wanted his service.
“Where are the gods?”
He was (dressed in a nightgown) astonished, not only by my bearing, but also by my question.
“Where are the gods?”
He repeated my question to himself. He pointed towards the heavens and said:
“But I want to talk to them. I have a question for them. Are they never here on earth?”
“It is a long time ago since the gods wandered among us.”
He bade me indoors and his servant (who also had been aroused by the commotion) served us food and beverage.
“There once was a time when the gods themselves wandered on earth. They descended from the heavens in their shining wagons and altered everything that existed. Mankind was destroying the whole world. They had burned or cut down all the forests, they had fished all the fish in the sea, they had killed all the animals that existed and the soil which they grew grain on was emaciated. There were too many humans, and all had become bandits. The smoke from the chimneys polluted the rain and made it dangerous to drink. The ocean, lakes and rivers died. The growth and plants, birds and animals that were not already dead because of the humans died too. Even the humans got trouble with breathing the air, which because of the funeral pyres was thick and heavy.
The gods therefore descended to restore order. To give life back to our planet. They burned the cities and slaughtered humans in tens of thousands. Lightning and flames rained down upon the fleeing masses. The sea washed up on the land and pulled humans back into the deep. The wind blew them away and crushed them against the ground. Mountains collapsed, some over the cities. The whole world lay in ruins. Ashes, mud and rocks, sea and glowing lava had covered everything. Only vestiges of the old world peered over it.
The gods then created a new world and let some people from the old world live there, but to prevent the humans from again demolishing the earth they placed Guardians among them. Thereafter the gods travelled back to the heavens. No one has seen them ever since.”
“But I must speak with the gods. I must meet them”
“Then you must speak to a Guardian. Find a Guardian. Perhaps he can help you?”
“Where are these Guardians? How may I get a hold of them?”
That I do not know. They are invisible. They only see, they can not be seen.”
Once again I ventured out in the world, not to win honour and fame, but to confront the gods with their wrongdoings. I intended to march into Valhöll itself and point accusingly at Ôðinn, while I put forth my allegations, questions and criticism. “Why are you so unfair and cruel? Why!?” Very content with my noble goal I therefore left to find a Guardian. I searched high and low, in old ruins from the old world, in high towers and deep caverns, in dark forests and over wild seas. There were no Guardians to find. No one who knew where the gods were. No roads ascending to the heavens.
I was travelling for many years. My followers fell one by one. Some were killed in combat against jötnar and trolls, worms and bandits, other fell like rocks down from high mountains and walls, some were victims of plague and sickness, others just died. I do not even remember any more how and why they all died. There were so many in the end. My anger only increased. My aggression towards the gods only grew in strength. They did not even care to give me an answer!
In the end I lay there on the ground myself, wounded and dying. Exhausted and weary, dejected and in despair. It all had been without meaning. Without a solution. Without an answer. Without a cause. It all was going to end in the mud, where I lay. Bloody and beaten. Alone amongst dead humans that I soon were to join in death.
Then I saw her; a fair being on a white horse. Smiling, almost laughing, she slowly rode towards me. My vision was double, the horse had eight legs. She laughed at me:
“Hold on if you can.”
I did not understand what was happening, everything was so unreal. But, somehow I got up on my legs, and suddenly I was sitting there behind her on the horseback. The horse galloped away as soon as I got a grip around her. In my condition it was not easy to gather everything that happened, but it seemed as if we were riding upwards, upwards and ever upwards. Towards the heavens. I clenched to hold on. It went so fast. After a while I hung in a vertical position after the horse. The hands clenched around the hips of the fair woman, but I was about to lose my grip. I cried out. In despair, but also with the hope that she would help me. But she did not help me.
“Hold on if you can.”
She nearly grinned it to me again, teasing. There was no compassion, no help. Nothing. I screamed and screamed. I lost my grip around her hips and slid slowly backwards, with my fingers at the horse’s back and behind. In the end I hung after the horse’s tail. Straight out behind it, on its wild race over the firmament.
Then there was a silence. There was no other sound but my own screams, and the woman’s teasing “Hold on if you can” that rung back and forth inside my head. It was not cold, nor warm. My body was no longer feeling heavy, but nor did it feel light. Time somehow stood still. We only rode towards the light up there. Silently. I do not know how long it all lasted. The light enclosed us entirely after a while and the horse began riding downwards again. But I could not endure any more, I had no strength left. I could not hang on any more and let go. No! No! No!
But suddenly there I was. I had let go even as we landed. I lay on the ground. The horse stood there. The woman – still smiling and teasing. More fair men and woman assembled. They were so light they shined. Not fair as us, but even lighter.
“Bring him here” I heard one of them say.
“Where am I?” I heard myself say. I was in the process of waking up. There was somebody there.
“You have arrived” said a voice.
I opened my eyes and saw that I was in a large room. The walls, the ceiling, the floor and furniture were all white. Soft and white. Comfortable white. The sheets were also white. A fantastic beautiful woman stood there with a clever smile. “I shall announce that you are awake” she said and left the room.
My byrnie, seax, helmet, shield and gloves, pants and everything else I had brought lay beside the bed on a white stool. Newly washed and cleaned, repaired and in good condition. I searched my body and understood that it as well had been repaired. The wounds were healed. There was not even a scar to see, and no bandages either.
The door opened again and a woman peeked in. “You may enter” she said. “Get dressed and come.” I wanted to ask her how long I had slept, but she was too fast and closed the door before I could. I dressed and remembered why I was here.
Outside the door a corridor led me down to a large door. The woman escorting me said that “Now you are here.” As if she new why I was here. I swallowed heavily and braved myself to knock on the door. She smiled at me as I peeked at her uncertainly. “Come in” it sounded. What else could I do?
A vast hall opened itself before me. Straight ahead there was a large throne, wherein Ôðinn himself sat. Around him sat and stood many other gods, in a crescent towards me. They were all fair and wonderful, tall and healthy. They had no faults. No visible flaws. Some bore serious facial expressions, other smiled at me. Even Ôðinn smiled too. “Now, what does this young sire want?” he said with an artificially strict voice. He still smiled. I felt rather small where I stood. My great ego was suddenly not that great any more. My great self-confidence was suddenly not so great any more either.
“Well” it nearly peeped out of me.
“According to my records you bring some accusation” said Odin, and demonstratively flipped through some papers. He acted irritated, but even so gave me a feeling of security and confidence. Nothing could go wrong here. Here was nothing to fear. I was safe.
And so it came, the accusation. In detail. I told about how unfair life was for some people, how cruel for others, how undeserved certain individuals found happiness and how undeserved others did not. I spat out one accusation after the other to a patient gathering of gods, and ended my prosecution with a why!? Ôðinn was not stirred. None of the other gods seemed stirred either.
“You ask us hard questions. To answer them I must know what you already know about earth and life on earth. For example, do you know from whence the humans come?”
“Yes I do. We are your children. We are the children of the gods.”
“And whence do you think the water spirits come, or the fairies and dragons, jötnar and trolls?”
“I do not know.”
“Let me tell you a story” said Ôðinn. “A long story, that you might not understand.”
“Try me.” I had won back my self-confidence.
“There was a time when neither jötnar nor trolls, dragons or fairies existed. Only men and animals, only plants and mountains, ocean and heaven. Mankind had wagons to pull themselves, they had tamed vast birds that flew about in the wide world. They had dwarves forge them food, so they needed neither fields nor farmers. They raised towers that nearly reached the sky, and delved caverns so deep the flames from the inner earth came out and burned them. Ashes and smoke poured out and enveloped the cities. The animals got lost in the darkness of this ancient world. The fish in the sea drowned. Birds fell as rain from the heavens, gaunt and lifeless – some with humans riding them. Plants decayed and the earth was no longer fertile. Mankind had forgotten everything about the gods.”
“It was then that you descended and destroyed the old world?” I interrupted.
“Yes, it was then we had to descend and destroy the world of men. Because they had forgotten why they were on the earth and why they were humans. They had forgotten what they were to become and who’s children they were. They married animals and had children with them. In the end there were almost no humans left; they had all mixed with vile beasts. Only some few individuals were left, but also these lived like animals. It was but a matter of time before all our children would completely disappear. We had to intervene.”
“But with so much cruelty? Did you have to let mountains fall over the cities? Did you have to let the oceans swallow the human masses? Did you have to let the flames burn those who were left? I have myself seen towers from the earliest times, that jag up from the earth. They are still black with soot on the inside. How many had to die?”
“It is often so that someone must die so that others may live. The earth is created for our children, for humans, and all other creatures, animals and plants, fish and fowl, everything is created by us for the humans. So that man could live and grow. We created this earth, we placed her where she is now, between the warmth of the sun and the freezing cold of the vast outside. We do with our creation as we want. What we have created we have the right to destroy as we see fit.”
“But what about men? What about your own children? Have you no concern for them, no compassion or good wishes?”
“Children are unruly. They often do what they themselves want, and not what their parents ask them to. What we did was to save our last surviving children from extinction, by forcing them to live differently. By forcing them to live like they should. By forcing them on to that road that leads ahead. By forcing them on the right road. We took some of the animals and from them we created new species and races. We created jötnar, large, strong and stupid, to force men to fear the forest. We created jötnar to give them something to test themselves against. The jötnar are uncomfortable when they think, they therefore prefer the fight, because then they do not need to think. They hate the humans because they are themselves fallen humans. They are ugly and small, dark and foul, violent and dangerous, stupid and without a spirit. But they have a purpose, like trolls, dragons and other creatures they force men to noble deed. We replaced the old and sick world with a world that gave humans a chance to become something more.”
“That does not explain why you let young boys die before they get the taste of the fruits of love! Why you let infants die of sickness in their cribs, why you…”
“Yes, yes” He interrupted me. “Yes, it does explain all this too. Mankind needs to be strong, to face future challenges it must be strong. Is it then so wrong to let the weakest die, so that in fact the rest has an opportunity to survive the future? If everyone were to live everyone would die. Now only the weakest die, so the rest may live. And how noble are not the youth that storm forth and fall on the battlefield before they have even tasted the fruits of love? Would the rest of the world ever know how good blood their family had, if not these boys had proved it with their noble deeds? Would their mothers ever get the chance to refine their consciousness without this loss of a son? Is not the good man a man who has taught himself to tackle pain and to be able to imagine others’? Women’s tears are like red gold; her pain refines her conscience.
All the pain and suffering, all the hardness we put you through is to your own good. Without this you would once again become low life, without this you would again let the stupid and weak decide the course of the world. Without war it is impossible to unveil the cowards, and because of that if there are no wars the cowards get as much to say as the brave. Man becomes coward, mixes with animals and forgets the gods and the creed of the gods. What are we then to do with men, we have after all created them for a reason? We have created them so they shall become better, not so they shall become animals.
Look around, look at us. We are your parents. We created you. We want like other parents that you shall become like us. Just as beautiful, just as intelligent, just as strong, just as good, just as honest, just as tall, just as fair, just as creative, just as brave. You can become what I am, but then you must do as I tell you to. You must understand the necessity of the tests we put you through. No beauty comes without pain. No strength comes without hardness. Nothing noble spawns without misery.”
“But why have you not told this to us? How was I supposed to know that everything that happens, no matter how gruesome and unfair it may seem, has a profound and deep meaning?”
“It has no purpose. You must figure that our yourselves. That is a part of our goal with you, that you shall learn to think for yourselves. You must understand on your own, without us having to tell you what is right or wrong. You have our blood; listen to the voice of the blood, listen to your intuition. Those of you who understand will guard the others, tell them what is right and wrong, and see to it that the improvement of man takes place.”
“Is that your Guardians? But where are they? Where are these Guardians? I have sought them for years, but never found any!”
“Are you sure about that? The whole time you have searched for something you have had with you all along, in your own baggage. You must understand that you are a Guardian. A Guardian of life, a Guardian of the children of the gods. A Guardian of customs. A Guardian because you react to what is unfair and gruesome, a Guardian because you dare to travel up here, all alone, even to the gods to ask questions about our treatment of human kind. We can feel safe when we know that men are cared for by the likes of you. You will watch over them. You wish the best, not only for you, but for all of humanity. You will fight for people who would rather see you dead. You will fight for somebody who would fight to come first in line when you were to be stoned or hanged. You will fight for somebody who does not even deserve to lick your boots clean. But, still you will fight for them. You will fight because your own spirit says to you that; “forgive them, they do not know what they are doing”. It is not their fault that they are like this, but you know that it is your responsibility to make their children become something better – and then you must also fight for them. One can not hate a plant because it can not grow in dry sand, but one can take its seeds and plant them in fertile soil.
The female Guardians are too proud to defile themselves, the male too proud to lust for defiled women or others’ wives. All the Guardians are noble, and always grow more noble as their lives stride forth. Some even crave answers from the gods, when they see the sufferings of man. And some get answers. Like you have today. The best of them become gods themselves, are allowed to enter our halls and live with us like equals.”
This was what I remembered. After this I was escorted back to my room. I became sleepy and lay down to sleep. I was back in the mud, still just as battered and dying. But a young maiden had heard my cries and her parents came to my rescue. So I survived. I got to live.
Oft I wonder if it was all just a dream, a dying man’s delusions, but it strikes me as obvious that they were right. The gods told me only what was right. I got a whole new world view, and I hope also that others will learn from what I have told. You can not smell what I smelled when I was there, you can not see what I saw, nor can you know how my travel to the heavens was like – but you can try to imagine it.
This is how I found a Guardian in the end, who could show me the path to the gods and explain to me why the world was like it was. Why the old world had to end and be replaced with a new and better world. How you in your world got a hold of my story I do not know, and neither do I know how your world looks like, but I hope my story can help you know what you should do with your world, so that it too can prosper, grow and thrive in accordance with nature and the laws of the gods.
Translated from Norwegian by Vidar Ermesjø.