Editor’s Note: Ian posted this at his own site. You can leave comments for him here or there.
Part of my intentional exile into “The Wilderness” involved some spirituality that, shall we say, was unorthodox and wrong. But in my studies there I found some bizarre coincidences. The reason I’m writing about this is two-fold: one, American Gods is one of my favorite books (despite not being a huge fan of Gaiman’s work in general, it was brilliant. And watching the show on a free trial for STARZ has been nice while I’ve been ill, and now stuck in the icy wastes of the Southron Ice Storm of 2021.) I’ve been to many of the real places in American Gods, I’d make side-trips to those places when I used to travel for work. And Ian McShane is about my favorite living actor, and he’s more than perfect for Mr. Wednesday.
The other reason is because of a conversation I had the other night. It was about two hours of philosophy and knowledge. Situations in my life had prepared me to deal with someone else’s problem and help that person through it in a constructive and healthy way, whereas if I’d not undergone my own traumatic and devastating experiences, I’d never have been prepared.
I was born on a Wednesday, the 12th day of the 12th month. The Major Arcana in the tarot features The Hanged Man as its 12th card—which can be interpreted as Odin hanging from the tree above the pool to gain wisdom. I never really caught that coincidence before, but it is amusing to me. Amusing and little more than that. Dabbling in the supernatural, divination, and all of that is extremely dangerous and I discourage it in the strongest terms, in no small part from experience. Pray, meditate on the Word, and be close to the Lord.
I prayed, in my youth, for wisdom and knowledge. While I didn’t give my eye for wisdom like Odin did, I came close enough to dying in that coma. I was adequately rewarded for my prayers. It’s like the old preachers’ saying: “never pray for patience, ’cause God’ll give you plenty to be patient about!” Wisdom is much the same. I seek counsel from the wise. I listen to them, and as I can, follow their wisdom. (I know I’ll get heat about one thing from one friend, but I think I’ve got it.)
No, I do not believe that I was revealed some grand knowledge to share with the world as some sort of prophet or something asinine (or, more likely, deceptive) like that. On these matters, I can tell you nothing you couldn’t find in the Word—albeit at times with some level of wordly understanding. I do believe in “personal revelation,” however, because I’ve seen too much of it in my own life over the years. We are taught lessons in ways in which we can learn them. “He who hath ears, let him hear,” after all. There can be value in sharing that, but not in an egoistic or self-serving way. Where else do good stories come from? What value is a story if it does not impart some message while entertaining the audience? There must, of course, be balance—I’m not a fan of major allegorical works (hence my lifelong almost heretical dislike of Lewis’s Narnia. I know. I will always prefer Tolkien.) Didacticism isn’t the best way to go. Subtlety is better.
I’ve been far more at peace with myself, with my fellow man, and with God Himself—to an ever-increasing degree, despite all of my hardships and the harsh realities of my daily life. And being able to share this fact with someone is a boon. The fact that my pain, my near death, the coma-dreams has been to someone else’s good has been uplifting to me. Makes it worthwhile to me. And moreso because it shows I learned my lessons. It took learning them the hard way, but I learned.
I know a number of folks value what I have to say in my testimony on these subjects, because I hear from you. I have no advice to give. I am no guru. I have no need of followers (except those who want to buy my books and stuff, or otherwise lend support. But that’s entertainment, not advice. A post like this is as close as I come to advice. I only advise in the specific for people I know well, or who want info on business or marketing or other material pursuits.)
But the crux of that conversation was this: it isn’t about me. It isn’t about you. It’s about truth. The truth makes us free. And the more you give yourself to the truth of His Word, the more you follow Him, the more you obey, the more you trust, the freer you are and will be. That is wisdom. That is knowledge. And you don’t even have to hang yourself upside down, wander for years in a spiritual wilderness among the jackals, or nearly die and see visions in a coma to find it. It’s there, in the Word of God.
I get it. Some of us have to touch the stove. I don’t wish that on anyone. But let me tell you: if you don’t have to, don’t. Learn from those of us who have. Be temperate, be honest, be good, serve God.