Today, I’d like to take a moment to talk about Odin, the Allfather. As you may know (or not) Odin traveled far and wide, through the cosmos, in all 9 realms, to gain wisdom and knowledge. That was his main focus, even giving up one of his own eyes to do so, to become all-knowing. But Odin didn’t travel his many journeys alone. With him, and before him, went Huginn and Muninn. The two ravens would fly out at dawn, all over the world, and bring information back to him at dusk. They are perceived as “thought” and “mind” in the Poetic Edda poem “Grimnismal.”
In today’s modern society it might be difficult to see how Huginn and Muninn are still very relevant. I take a more metaphoric approach to incorporate them into my daily activities. While I don’t have actual ravens sitting on my shoulders, what I DO have is still “thought” and “mind” in my head (that actually…sits…on my shoulders! Lol) Each time I leave my house or interact with other people, I gather information. I watch the news for politics and global current events. I get out in my community to see how my local economy is faring. I watch gas prices and grocery prices. In my career, I get to see inside the health care system as far as insurance companies, medications, prescription costs, quality of care, etc., and see how those things affect the people in my community. I am constantly thinking about what to avoid, what the best way to execute my day is, and what to expect next in the economy (on a more direct level of “how does this affect me?”)
While some of these thought processes seem almost autonomic, it is the feed of more interactions and experiences that builds our foundations and belief systems. The more we use our thoughts and minds, the better we can navigate the oceans of our lives. For example (and because its the most recent current event at hand) if you think about the Coronavirus pandemic, all the information floating around about what to do and what not to do… I understand its hard to weed out what’s bullshit and what’s truth, but what have we gathered from all of it? Stay home if you can. If you can’t, protect yourselves. Gloves, masks, safety glasses. Protect your family. Social distancing. Those things make transmitting the virus more difficult, therefore, keeping the death toll lower than what it would be if we didn’t do them (collectively speaking.) Those tools were given to us by “thought” and “mind.”
As an EMT on the very front lines of this pandemic, I must make use of my own personal Huginn and Muninn ravens. We’re getting screwed with supply shortages of proper personal protective equipment such as N95 masks and isolation kits with gowns. Facilities are only testing people who have symptoms of Covid-19. Our protocols for maintaining a safe work environment are changing almost daily, and I have to say, I don’t feel like my personal best interest is being considered. I feel like changes are being made to accommodate the shortages, instead. N95 masks were originally labeled for single use only. Magically, they’ve recently been deemed “able to sanitize and reuse.” They aren’t being made differently, so what changed? To battle the mask crisis, we were “issued” homemade cloth masks. 1 each, to be specific. And while I appreciate the effort, I might as well lick the handrail on a Walmart shopping cart if we’re going to compare the risks of infection. What was once unacceptable is becoming a new, lower standard of normal but it still doesn’t make it right or safe. It’s simply a product of the crisis and I still have to utilize good thought processes to make good decisions for myself, as well as my family, and the patients I encounter whether I’m at work or not.
With that being said, the good decisions that you make and act upon directly impact you, your families, and your communities. Use your own personal Huginn and Muninn- your thought and mind- to take in information, process what it means to you, or for you, and connect with the world around you. Odin is with us all!