Of Jörmundgandr

We hear it speak; we feel it shake. We fear the end; the lashing snake.

Its ties, which bind us; grip us tight. Its eyes, which blind us; burn so bright.

Teeth, and tail, and rocks, and cry; feet that fall on land and sky.

Of siblings shorn, of faces changed; of snakes and horses; rearranged.

Of Jörmundgandr.

Fuck poetry: let me speak to you directly. We are the people of Miðgarðr: the people of the serpent. I know people who will tell you that there was a time before the serpent; that sounds too much like hope to me: I don’t know what to believe. I just want to cut the head off that bastard thing and feed the world, at least while the world exists. We would dine in fine style, the free people of the lands.

That was too grand; that will never do. We are not free. I can’t even say for sure we’re of the lands.

We were born of wood, adrift on pale and listless waters. Imbued with impure gifts, and expected to do the bidding of our capricious hosts. We soon forgot. Ritual becomes part of the daily fabric, when the old things die, and we have no direction. I can see our direction now, and it comes in the shape of a lashing tail. A free tail, boundless and unhinged. The ouroboros has broken; Ragnarök is nigh.

The trickster made himself known to us, as the one eyed man watched from his usual hut. They each claim not to see each other; their lies are as transparent as the skull of Ymir. They sniff each other out like wolves; we all know that the hissing and spitting are not far off. This is why we despair of the games they play. We are their pieces, their tools, their casualties, yet they pay us only scant heed.

Miniature men move across a hide, Muscovites attacking Swedes, the king high in his impregnable castle. This is our metaphor for the games they play. This shows our naiveté, our lack of sight of the games of the gods: we apply rules with which to rationalise our world: rules do not apply to the god class; only chaos, and intrigue, and bestiality. We do them no justice with our worldly gaming.

Three roosters crow as a herdsman plays his harp. An eye opens, and realises that he has heard only what he wanted to hear. He sees the lashing of the snake; he sees the freedom of the tail; he finally sees that which was hidden: it is time for Heimdallr to blow his horn, and for the tribe to cross the Bifrost. The fall of the gods is upon him, and he has only time left to lose. Death will be upon him.

We have heard the screams of the wolf, the god-killer, deep in the night. It circles us now, counting down the drum beat before the final attack. This time is the end of the gods, not that of man: why do they bring their wrath in to our lives? We have only worshipped them, prayed for their assistance in the darkness of our miserable lives. We were not to know that they were worse than children.

Our actions betray us. Our unease makes us beasts, as we succumb to the influence of our drowsy gods. Brothers fight, and kill each other. No one has mercy on one another, and the whores work long in to the night. This is an age of swords, of axes, of breaking shields. We have never known a world so harsh; yet we know that we offer ourselves only deceit: such harshness is our daily bread.

The swarthy one rises in the south, new islands for the footing of the invasion. The underworld is come to the light, and only death will follow in its fiery footsteps. A horn, transcendent on the wind, clawing through the nine worlds, blows sharp and clear: The world shakes, like the branches of a mighty tree, pummelled by the winds of a collapsing universe. Waves of gods crash upon our shores.

The eight feet of the magnificent horse rip through the black sand. The reynisdrangar shudder and shake as the one-eyed lord brings his legions in to battle. The siblings – the horse and the snake – eye each other nervously. Today, at least one of them will die, because that is how this goes. That is how this always goes; played out time and time and time again, across the ruins of the æther.

The war between over and under is a local skirmish enacted on a universal level. Yet, the clash, the attack, is a splash of the other realms cast as shadow through the light of Miðgarðr. The one eyed man, on his eight legged horse, is spectral thin on the background of this crashing tide. His wraith form slicing through the air of the real with the unholy wrath of Ásgarðr. A physical spectre of pain.

Land breaks as the serpent bucks and throws. The smoking dragon cliff is shattered, leaving only the remains of trolls. The lord of lightning crashes his hammer in to the body of the serpent; he achieves nothing. Jörmundgandr spits venom across the land, while all around is smeared with the very fires of hell. Rock pours and land cooks amidst the torrent of bile. Óðinn and Þórr look in to apocalypse.

Father and son, thunder and lightning, live and die at once. The wolf consumes the father in its fell maw; the hammer strikes the serpent down once and for all. The horse cannot accept such sorrow, and is swept up by the roiling wake of his brother’s death. The ground shakes with the death throes of the terrible serpent. The sky, once full of fire, freezes, and all but smoke and rain is gone again.

The birth of new land; the death of old. The bloated corpse of the snake; the world burned, and the gods now dead. The people of the lands are the ones to suffer. The end of one set of myths is begun another: Life reborn from forest; we consume the morning dew to sustain us on through this dead world, bereft of our gods. We know that they will return, we will die, and all will repeat and repeat.

We heard it scream; we felt it shake. We felt the end; the lashing snake.

Its ties, which bound us; fell away. Its eyes, so still now; dead and grey.

Fire, and rocks, and venom spew; hammer strike and brethren slew.

Of mankind born, of gods so killed; of wood and water; blood is spilled.

Of Jörmundgandr.

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