It was 1988 and I was spending a summer day in the classroom of Ann Kelly, who was teaching us something about the Enneagram that day. (Ann Kelly had been a student of Dr. Nylund, as Sally Ann McLain). She drew a figure on the chalk board and said that it was another version of the Enneagram. At the time, I attributed the interlacing figure of three triangles to the Egyptian pyramids, because that was my interest, but after the Goddesses of the Nitty Gritty – the Norns and Hela – came calling in 2013, and I began learning all I could about things Norse, I learned of this mysterious figure called the Valknut.
The images were the same. This was not the first time that I had seen parallels between what I had learned from the Gurdjieff work and the things I was learning about the Runes. From Gurdjieff, I had learned about the Law of the Triad, which is what Gurdjieff named the Triamazikamno. All of this information is available in Gurdjieff’s All and Everything series, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, Purgatory chapter. P.D. Ouspensky writes also of the Law of Three in In Search of the Miraculous.
What I could not find was any other drawing of the Enneagram that exactly resembled the Valknut in any publication or on the internet. Still, when I came across a copy of Thomas Karlsson’s diagram of the Valknut and his attributing the three Triads of the Valknut to three groups of Norse deities, I again saw the same teaching that underlay the Gurdjieff work (see Karlsson’s Uthark: The Nightside of the Runes for this illustration). To Odin-Vili-Ve was accredited the Creative Triad, to the Norns Urd-Verdhandi-Skuld was accredited the Triad of Being, and to Hela-Fenris-Jormundgand was accredited the Destructive Triad.
From the teachings of Gurdjieff, we learn of the Triad drawn as a triangle with three points. One point represents the affirming or plus (+) force. One point represents the denying or minus (-) force. And one point represents the equalizing or neutralizing (=) force. It leapt out at me that in the Norse pantheon the Creative forces would be attributable to Odin, Vili, and Ve as the Creator Gods who gave rise to humanity from two trees. The Destructive forces are easily seen in Loki’s children Hela, Fenris, and Jormundgand. And in the Norns Urd, Verdhandi, and Skuld, we find the forces that balance, equalize or neutralize the force plus and the force minus. Objective Science, as Gurdjieff terms it, reflected in the Norse Mythology.
But whether or not we dive deep into the Norse Mythology at this point to arrive at deeper understanding of ancient knowledge, it is quite simple to study the workings of the Triad within ourselves. As Gurdjieff points out, and as is substantiated by many shamanic pathways, there are three “centers” in the human being, for lack of a better word, that Gurdjieff named the intellectual, the emotional, and the physical centers. These correspond to the gifts that Odin, Vili, and Ve gave humanity when Odin breathed the gift of breath into two tree, and Vili gifted Will, and Ve gifted blood, “blooming hue,” sensuality, senses, heartbeat. Religions talk about spirit, mind, and body.
It is my belief that the Triad within human beings is the true meaning of our being created in the image of God, and not the image of a long bearded little white man hanging out in an imagined concept of heaven. The flow of three forces is reflected in our mind, body, and spirit. And there are further mysteries: What happens when we die? Are the Christianized ideas of heaven and hell real, or might there be a kinder truth? Gurdjieff does not assume that we all – as Christianity teaches – already have a soul, but instead bases his work on the premise that we must grow one, and this is done by work on self.
The Valknut, like the Enneagram, like the Tree of Life and several other “soul maps” (to borrow a term from Raven Kaldera) point the way to systems whereby we can know ourselves, what it means to be human, and what it means to stand on two feet in the Cosmos with head pointing toward heaven and feet toward earth. This is what humanity evolved for, to be transformers of cosmic substances.
Because I find this all so “cosmically” interesting, I will be writing about it more often. Please stay tuned.