The Old Man of the Woods

From Dver's blog, Forest Door, a project announcement. Unfortunately, all copies have already been purchased, though Dver may do another small run later in the year.


My latest devotional art project has been a long time in the making for such a small thing. Two years ago, I was exploring some particularly numinous woods with a friend when I started to be reminded of the area around my childhood home in New England, and particularly of the dreams I’d had back then, of an old hermit who lived in a small house crammed with books located somewhere in the murky trees across the street from my house – dreams I had later come to identify as my first contact with Odin. I then found a piece of bark on the ground that looked just like a one-eyed mask (which now sits on His shrine), and felt His presence very strongly. I was suddenly overcome with a feeling that I needed to reconnect with that face of the god, and delve deeper into what had been going on during those dreams, and in later ones that happened just as I took up the vocation of spirit-worker. Since the magic inherent in language was a major theme running throughout these experiences, it occurred to me that I might work through it via some kind of story or poetry.

I started taking books and notebooks out into the woods to read and write and think and process, and sketched out the beginnings of an idea. Slowly, so slowly, it began to take shape, and eventually became a poem with lines of nine syllables each, and a structured rhyme scheme (which is not generally my forte). Over many months, I would return to work on it, painstakingly crafting it into what it needed to be, deliberating over every word, trying to fit so many important elements into such a tight form with only nine stanzas. And I started envisioning the final form – a small, handmade book, of course, because the Odin I had visited in those dreams was saturated with the power of books.

The poem was still only about half completed when something finally clicked, sparked by my finding what apparently was the right offering to Him of a wooden image to represent this aspect. The day it arrived at my door, the rest of the poem fell into place. And the book quickly followed. Especially once I realized that I was coming up on the 20 year anniversary of the last important dream that is woven into this (I finished the books on that date, a few days ago). I even managed to create some simple pen-and-ink illustrations – again, not my forte, but my artistic life for the past couple decades seems to be a continuing process of learning techniques and muddling through as best I can for what is required of me by inspiration to make things for the gods and spirits.

I have made a very limited initial run of only nine of these, because the process of making them (like the process of writing the poem itself) was rather excruciating for various reasons (it seemed fitting, really, that something meant for Odin would exact a certain price). Obviously the first one is His, but I am offering the rest for sale. If there is enough interest and they sell out, I will make a second run of nine around Yule.

While this is obviously an intensely personal perspective on Odin, especially as it is intimately tied to the land I grew up on, I do hope it will resonate with others and perhaps open some doors.

And so I present, The Old Man of the Woods.