You have all been asked the question, “What led you to this path”? Initially I felt the urge to explore my European heritage. But of course, the path becomes much more wider as the journey continues. The thing that brings me back, when I think about it or re-read it, is Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods.

For those of you who have read the book, I’ll tell you first about the pages that moved me most. It is the story of Mad Sweeney. The Mad Sweeney of the novel ends much like The Madness of Suibhne, the legendary king of Ulster in Ireland. He is found dead, propped up by a dumpster with a bottle of whiskey. The undertakers, however, know the true cause of his end. An old woman has died, an Irish immigrant, who was the last person alive in America who carried his story. “This is a sad wake for Great Sweeney, who flew like a bird across all of Ireland.”

I wonder who else has been forgotten? The image or rune, carved on a stone or fragment of unearthed metal. We give you a name, based on local legends or archetypes but is that really you Cernunnos, Arianrhod? How many Gods wander this strange land, dejected images of their former selves, like the stories main character Shadow,  who is collected by the shabby con man Mr. Wednesday from jail. Shadow is a shadow of his former self, he no longer even remembers he was a God.

Gaiman has described American Gods as ” much less about religion and much more about the nature of belief.”  But I feel the loss of the names of Gods was the result of religion, forced upon people with fear, the images of the gods burned buried and eventually forgotten. It’s easier to believe the cold and hunger.

Maybe we can remember, as Shadow does when he recreates Odin’s hanging from the world Tree. Maybe the names can come to us, briefly in whispers, carried by voices of ancestral spirits. Follow the voices and Remember.

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