I’m starting my own church. A church of one. This is what I believe.
I believe in a reality that is very close to our own, a reality that sometimes touches our own, and sometimes even crosses over. This reality has been called many things by many people. It has been called the Astral Plane, the Dreaming, the Tellurian, and Ideaspace.
We feed this place with our dreams, our ideas, our inspirations and aspirations. We visit this place when we dream. When our minds are set at the right speed. Shamans used peyote to reach this place. Tibetan monks used meditation. If we refuse to sleep, sometimes the dreams fight their way through. This is the place where dreams and dreamers meet. We call to them and they answer back.
Heroes are born here, live here, and die here. All our legends, all our faiths are born in this place. It is the home of Robin Hood and Beowulf. Buddha and the Christ are here, breaking bread and drinking wine. Just over there, Jacque de Molay and the Old Man on the Mountain play an endless game of chess. Odin and Loki argue with Zeus and Prometheus. All our dreams, all our legends, all our myths. They come from this place. This holy, sacred place.
I believe this place can be reached through various means. We use ritual and ordeal. We use the ritual of enacting the stories of heroes. We do not simply tell the stories of heroes, we don’t walk in their footsteps. We make the footsteps. To summon the energy of heroes, we tell their tales. We wrap ourselves in their symbols and invoke the hero. We do not simply tell the myth, we become the myth. We are the heroes of the stories we tell.
We are shamans, summoning the spirits of heroes.
We are magicians, making magic with rituals and ordeals.
We are gamers.
Every man, woman and child is part of the Imagination, but all of us see it differently. All of us know it by different names. The Astral Plane, the Dreaming, the HeroPlane.
For me, I call it, “Valhalla.”
This sacred place where heroes went after they died. In that holy hall, the victorious fallen drink, feast, sing, and make love until the fighting begins. They fight to the death, each and every one of them. Then, the Allfather calls their names and rises them up, mending their broken bones and torn skin, so they can do it all again the next night.
The victorious fallen. The Einherjar.
(As a sidenote, what most people don’t realize is that only half the Einherjar actually go to Odin’s hall. The rest go to Freya’s hall, Folkvang. As for me, I’d rather hang out with the Sex Goddess than the Allfather, but to each his own.)
My last name is Wick. My grandfather changed it from Vik when he arrived in America. (He thought it sounded too Scandinavian.) I grew up in Minnesota, learning the tales of my ancestors. I learned about Valhalla and the Grey Wanderer, about Loki and the Lay of Thrym. I learned about Mjolnir and Bifrost. And I learned about the Einherjar. And I used to brag that my funeral would be me with everything I own, floating down the Mighty Miss on a burning barge.
Most importantly, I learned the only true immortality was having your name spoken after you were in the ground.
I believe in Imagination. This place where heroes go. The Victorious Fallen. The Einherjar.
Heroes are there. Sherlock Holmes and Lamont Cranston. John Constantine and V. Tim Drake and Jack Burton. Irene Adler and Kachiko.
(“Jack Burton! ME!”)
Heroes go here. My heroes. Your heroes. Like Hemmingway and Roger Zelazny. Dorothy Chandler and Harriet Quimby. Buddy Holly and Harry Chapin. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. The Buddha, the Christ, and Owen Hart.
This is what I believe. I believe we can make stories of our lives that we too may eat and drink and make love with the heroes in that sacred place. As long as our names are spoken after our death, I believe we may stay in that sacred hall. With Johnny Cash and Ossie Davis. With Elvis and Byron. With William Blake and Jim Morrison.
And my grandfather.
I perform the ultimate alchemy: transforming my life into a story. And when I am gone and I go before Freya, she will ask me, “What have you done to earn the right to sit beside my Einherjar?”
I will say, “I have a story worth telling.”