Private John Parr of Church End Sixteen years he knew With Middlesex Regiment scouts he marched For his homeland and his King
In Belgium then at a place called Mons He met his bitter end Against German scouts he chanced to fall The first of our war dead
Twas 1914 and summer shone The fields were gold with grain The best and brightest of the Empire marched So few would see home again
The Great War opened up its maw Great Fenris, the corpse wolf howled Four years and sixteen million dead Churned that golden earth corpse foul
11 November 1918, two minutes from armistice George Lawrence Price of the 28th Canadian Last son of the empire fell In the shadow of the first
Four years and a hundred yards Between the first and last Sixteen million Great War dead For a hundred bloody yards
At St Symphorien they stand the watch Fenris the ever hungry bides Lest our leaders forget the price Of a hundred bloody yards
Cpl John T Mainer, Retired
There was a thing called “The war to end all wars” that didn’t. It ended a generation of young men, beggared nations, and laid the groundwork for a greater and more wasteful stupidity we would name World War II as we at least admitted we were not done asking our best and brightest to die in the thousands and tens of thousands to hopefully buy a chance to do better the next time.
World War 1 began and ended one hundred yards apart. The first and last soldiers of the British Empire fell literally within sight of each other. Millions dead, nothing settled, for a hundred bloody yards.
Now we hear a lot of jingoist rhetoric, a lot of people talking about settling their political differences with bullets not ballots. We approach Remembrance Day. 11th of November we will summon the dead of our endless wars to the cenotaph, to give thanks for their sacrifice.
When we face those honoured dead, you had best wipe that snarl of hatred, that howling blood hungry maw with which you bay for the blood of your neighbors. You face those who died to keep you free, to keep our homes safe. Do not piss on their memory by raising your arms against the descendants of their orphaned children.
We have given the best men and women of our generation to the fires of war for as long as my family has kept records. They marched away hoping to return, but trusting that if they fell in foreign fields, those who remained would keep faith, and protect the people they left behind.
Sing sweet Idunn Sing through the sobs Sweetly she stretched in sunlight Joyous dance in the breeze Beneath her branches Gathered the lost to her shelter
Come the storm and shattering Broken and bereft Yet green grew at the breaking Sun loving she sought Rise again rise again loving Sweetly to the sunlight Her blossoms brightly blooming
Through struggle and storm risen Strong and supple Bright limbed and heavy blossom Deep rooted and loving Dreaming of the fruit She will bring forth
Sing sweet Idunn Sing through the sobs For the blight has touched the blossom Fought so long to reach The full sun of summer Now ash sears and blights Where blossom hung in promise
Bitter dew is gathered Tears stain the swaying leaf Petals fall in silence Bright dreams litter the floor Bare branch shall never hold Rich fruit in loving boughs
Sing sweet Idunn For her shall never know your richness Grown strong in the broken places Danced joyous in each post storm dawn To be blighted in her full blossom All her victories naught but jest Blossoms and dreams By blight made foul and rot
—–Some news just hurts. There is no wisdom that grants it perspective, for each new layer of knowledge deepens your awareness of the wound suffered, and your helplessness to do anything but witness the blood fall.
I will take all your strength The skill from your hands The lore from your mind The fire from your blood I will leave you nothing I am the ruin of all you have become I will unmake you Before the end
Thus spake the abyss Ever hating Ever hungry Ever closer
Once I was invincible Or perhaps I was a fool Skills and arts were mine Mastery was earned and proven Before the first shattering Or was it the second?
Thus met the abyss Ever hating Ever hungry Ever closer
At first I rose defiant Carved power from my blood Wrote saga’s in my pain Took up those arts I mastered Took up the battle unflinching Less in power Less in skill Haunted by what I was
Then whispered the abyss Ever hating Ever hungry Ever closer
Every dawn my fangs taste you Every dusk a step closer The strength of your limbs bleeds away Your skills fade and falter Half the man of yesterday Twice what tomorrow will leave
Then laughed the abyss Ever hating Ever hungry Ever closer
Yet in the cold light of dawn I nodded Naught but tatters for banners Naught but ashes for dreams Yet the wreckage of me remains And from that wreckage A truth
The strength I had is fading The skill I won goes with it Yet on the day of my ending Cold the dawn Bloody the dusk You will find me striding forward Catch me only dying And kiss My cold dead ass
–For it is given to Heathens to know that they will die. We do not seek death, nor do we bestir ourselves much to avoid it should it rise in our path. Our gods call upon us to live fully, to live truly, and to make of our lives such a thing that that which age, infirmity, and death can claim is so small compared to the life that we have wrought we will not even notice its loss.
I am not what I was, and the abyss draws closer with every breath. Yet I have those I love, and duty yet to do. If the abyss wants me, it can kiss my hairy heathen ass; I have much yet to do.
King have I been, seer have I been A healer, a poet and a sage Yet in the truth is thus I will meet my end with a grin In blood and in the rage
There is a race of kings you see But that blood I do not claim There is a race of thralls And safety well they love Yet I am of the other race Of Carls was I born
We who are called to the doing Some to the crafting Some to the killing All born to the challenge Pride and power Blood of the Carl Truth of the fool
I am not what I was Yet what I am is Carl A thousand gravestones in my eyes And I the one who remains Who bet my life a thousand times On skill, on luck, on pride Rose from the battle Rose from the grave With a little more pain Just a little less sane Blood of the Carl Soul of the wolf
Throw myself in the struggle Bet my life on the razors edge Bet my pride against blood And live to walk away Walk from my doom Walk from my end Until laughing I turn back For one last roll of the dice
I will have no kings howe Nor a thrall’s safe sick bed I will go to my end clad in power The blood from my wounds Carl red
Seer I have been Of the hanged one’s truth learned We are all of us corpses Awaiting the day of our wyrd Let it find me laughing All my strength in the fray Take me in my fury Kill me in my pride Scatter my ashes and forget my name For a Carl’s true place Is in the doing
You get tired when sleep is denied you. You get so that the screams of everyone who can’t deal with what they are going through stops being background noise and starts feeling like an ocean.
I come from a people that loved oceans, to seek the places that are, or were, or may be. To go where the map has not been made, to the places others failed to return from.
Along the seas of rage and fear I sailed in a mind whose defenses I did not bother to raise, for my soul was my sail, and as the waves broke green upon the prow and the mast of my sanity groaned and the keel of my identity snarled, and the dark corded lines of my training sang songs of overstrain and danger.
Far beyond the shores of sanity, at the edge of the abyss where the sea drops away to places that are not always there, but not always gone either something stirs.Before the ages of man, before the steps of the dinosaur, when the first trilobite formed an eye to behold the horror that was already ancient, they sang their songs of madness in the deeps, to drive the first creatures onto land to escape.
To this place my ship flew swift over darker and darker waves, until an island raised up from the sea like the nightmare mockery of Atlantis sinking.
He who ruled there rose up in infinite dark hunger, and stirred his tentacles into a mind shattered into a thousand splinters, and tired beyond tired.Doom he promised and madness, soul destroying knowledge that would blast my reason beyond salvage and warp my flesh beyond human.
“Yes” I snarled, reaching for the howling maelstrom with a hunger that would shame Fenris Wolf.
I looked into the abyss of madness and it looked back into me.Dark tentacles drove into me, seeking to ravage and destroy those bright memories that made me human, but dark roots and blood stains covered them.
The whispers of his words fell before the laughter of the hanged one, the howling of the frenzied one, the thunder that was the shattering of sky, of shield, of souls for the strife bringer.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” A voice like a chorus of a thousand lost souls screaming shook my bones, and blasted the surface of the sea into mist two fathoms high.
I laughed and pulled at the maelstrom, clawing at it with my hands and devouring it like a starving wolf on his still twitching kill.Dark tentacles sliced into me, shattering, slicing, punishing, seeking now to kill not to bind, and from the shattering darkness bled to cloak an absence that was a figure made in negative.Power lashed out and was consumed.
Ancient and unclean power rent my soul with claws of inhuman will and undying hatred.I died screaming, laughing, in ecstasy, in revelry, screaming, silent, straining, sighing, each blow shattering me like a fist in the water’s reflection of a face.Like the water, I reformed.
The laughter of ravens, the sobbing of the broken, the howling of the lost, the chanting of the wise, and the cold eternal hunger for all that was not known bled to fill every wound that cut me.
Ancient beyond ancient stared at the thief of knowledge, the rider of Hel’s road, and knew that each and every death he gave whispered secrets his secrets to the one eyed upstart.
“Begone fool. I would have used you better, and killed you cleaner than this” The Great One said, then sank again.
Great winds caught the sails of my soul, and the churning of the island sinking back into the depths below the depths whipped the sea into a frenzy my serpent howled and writhed to cross, the great keel that was my identity was carved of Yggdrasil, and he who rode it into madness was its master, as he was mine.
The sail that was my soul was in tatters, the mast that was my sanity shattered full length; yet nine bands of gold girt it, the rings of all riches, and what was stolen filled my holds for the god of cargoes, the first and best of all thieves to know.
What was lost, I cannot say. What was gained, I do not ask. There is no rest, no comfort, no peace, no ending, but there are places the map does not run, secrets the wise do not know, and uses still for madmen and fools.It is enough.
I have been listening to a whole lot a people who are suffering right now because of a gift that they have, empathy. The gift of empathy is nominally a very important one for those who serve their community, but right at the moment, it comes with a huge drawback.
We have a perfect storm of negative emotions right now. Covid 19 pandemic brings with it risk of death, loved ones in danger, loved ones lost. It brings with it loss of social outlet, loss of community, loss of connection. It brings with it HUGE political division, and the threat of persecution no matter what course of action you take, someone is going to see this as an attack on their way of life, freedom, and even faith. We have the simmering racial tensions that have been accumulating since the election of a President who endorses open racism in a way not seen since the howling mobs of McCarthy era pre Civil Rights movement North America now boiling over with the Black Lives Matter protests proving the old acceptance will no longer be swallowed. We have economic hardship and uncertainty not seen since the great depression and a breakdown of our traditional alliance system that kept us safe since the end of WWII.
If you are an empath, the whispers you pick up from people, that let you know they are angry, or hurting, or scared are what give you the chance to see where help is needed. It is not a whisper right now, it is a scream. It has been a scream that has been growing in volume since Yule and will continue to grow for a long time before it even begins to back off.
We have wise goddesses, and clever gods, but sometimes the lessons we need most come not from the brightest gods, the most magical goddesses, but from the most mundane, the most straightforward and frequently fumbling god; Thor.
Thor is the working folk’s god, the common persons god. He makes mistakes, he learns, adapts and finishes the job. Right now I hear my empathic friends drowning, and I understand what they need, but it is Thor that gave us the tale and lesson.
Long ages ago when the gods travelled in Jottunheim, tests were given to them by Uttgard-Loki. Thor was given the test to drain a drinking horn. His task seemed simple for one as great at the table as Thor, for his appetite was matchless in the nine worlds. He took up that horn, as only one with great and matchless strength could, and he threw back his head and drank as no man or god before or since has been able to do.
He had not picked up a giant horn of mead, but a horn that connected to the sea itself, and he was struggling to drink down all the worlds oceans. Not even Thor is vast enough to contain all the waters of the nine worlds and the endless fountain of the mother of waters. He failed. He put the horn down and backed away, admitting this task was beyond him.
Those who are empaths and have undertaken the task of serving their community grow in strength and endurance as they deal with the pain of others, taking it in to themselves, that in the sharing of the pain, they can share their own skills and teachings to process the pain and work through it.
This begins with tiny sips, and over time and when you have the physical and emotional resources to do the work, can proceed to glasses of pain, or even large horns of suffering.
Thor could not drink the sea, you cannot swallow the burning of the world and the screams of a people who are busy losing their mind under the strain of the perfect storm know as 2020.
Stop trying to be Thor, even he failed at this test. We are not Christians, we don’t admire martyrs, we shake our head at wasted lives, and unnecessary loss.
Wine tasters do not sit at the table and down barrel after barrel of wine, they take a mouthful, swirl it around to understand it, to learn it, and then they spit it out. They understand they CANNOT drink an ocean of wine and don’t try. They take in a taste, learn what they can, and get rid of it.
A whole long time ago we all learned grounding, centering, and shielding to process energy from ritual. These are the basic 101 skills any practitioner picks up. A lot of years ago when I was a young soldier I learned the coping mechanism of compartmentalizing serious incidents to be dealt with when I had the time and processing power to deal with it.
These are both self defense mechanisms, coping strategies to address Thor’s little drinking problem, the sea is vast, and we are not. We can drown in what we take in, we can be overwhelmed if we don’t take measures to limit what we take in, or at least balance it so we let go as much as we take in so that we do not drown in the ocean we are drinking.
What are you doing to LET GO what you are taking in?
I know many of you are playing “Suck it up buttercup” and internalizing your communities screaming so you don’t spill it out on others and hurt them. That is Thor swallowing as fast as he could, he was a god, and FAILED. You are not a god, you are drowning right now, and need to stop.
Some of you are working really hard on your shielding to block it out, and that is a good coping strategy.
The problem is this, you ARE an empath, you can’t help but taste the wine, to understand the source of the pain that spawned the scream, no matter how much you know you have to block it out. We who have the gift took it up to serve, not to be safe.
Being safe is a learned behaviour, 2020 is a bitch of a teaching moment.
You are picking up a whole bunch of heavy right now. Lets do something with it.
First, taste it, or listen to it, however you process it, but do not swallow it. You will drown, you will lose yourself and save no one. Take in enough to learn the pain of others, to share their struggle, and to see what you can do with it in terms of processing. Learn, don’t drown.
Spit it out, let it go. If its pouring into you, let it flow through you and out again. This is the time to practice your centering. Look inside yourself and find all the bits that are you, claim them. Find the bits that are not you, and gently let them go. Some of the pain and fear will be yours, those you can keep and deal with, the rest its not yours, so let it go. Center in yourself, be the rock that stands in the middle of the river, don’t let yourself get carried away by it and smashed at the next cataract.
Now all the pain, fear, rage, despair; the thousand colours of nasty that are actually yours have to be dealt with.
We have already gone over the fact that we are all cut off from most of our social outlets, most of our support structure, so in a lot of ways you are dealing with the biggest load of your life, with the lowest supports you have ever had.
That’s OK, really it is.
Letting the emotions go, the pain, all that stuff that you have finally pushed outside yourself has left you with a whole lot of your own pain, fear, rage, despair, hopelessness, and of course exhaustion.
So, what are you going to do with it.
Rage is useful, you can feed hopelessness, despair, fear, self hatred, feelings of inadequacy, into the mouth of the rage that comes from that storm of emotions of all the terrible, unfair, unjust, and just plain wrong that has been our year so far. Feed it to your rage and take it back as power.
Now take that power and do something with the rage.
Do you want to pour it into art, song, verse, political rants? Do you want to shape it into a magical working and wield it like the hammer of Thor to smite Covid-19, White Supremacy, corruption or any of the other serious wrong that needs smiting. Do you want to channel it into your fists and work it out pounding the heavy or speed bag, do you want to pound it into the pavement as you run, or build the winter wood pile looking at each wood billet as your least favourite politician and let the sweet fall of the axe bring a bit of relief.
You can’t just take it in, you need to actively work it out.
Thor could not drink down the sea, neither can you. I will not ever ask you to stop being empathic, to give up your gifts, for you are the ones cursed or blessed with the ability to heal the rifts in the community, the wounds in our souls. Don’t drown. Thor put the horn down when he could drink no more and stepped back.
Be smart as Thor, and put it down before your drown. Step back and survive for the next challenge.
The prince returned, alarm stirring as for the first time in centuries he doubted his own immortal prowess. For a week he had sported with Scarlet, and yet she had not quickened with the child that would free him of obligation until its birth.
His own arts had read the richness and fertility of her flesh, and his arts had stilled within her those chemicals of mortality that sought to rob humanity of its only superior gift, the fertility denied the fair folk, yet she did not quicken.
Scarlet waited demurely in her bower, and the very demure patience alerted him of the trap. His senses swept, yet found no threat, only her room mate awaiting in the next room, a strange and compelling excitement tinged the air, yet no threat.
“What trickery is this?” The prince asked, his elven tones too pure for humanity, yet for all his experience, all his magical talent and immortal will, he was unable to see the chains that bound him.
“How is it you are not with child, how is it the bargain still binds me?”
Scarlet pushed some buttons on her mortal communications amulet, or “phone” as mortals would describe it, before turning and smiling like a cat with a cornered baby bird.
“Oh my lord, that would be the surgical steel IUD. Guaranteed proof against fairy magic and unplanned pregnancy both; although I absolutely adored every instant of you trying” She batted her eyelashes with uncomplicated lust, even as her complicated web began to unfold.
“What is this, we are bound you and I for a moon to produce a child that will be mine, or the magic will claim us both!” The prince felt anger rising, as the terms of fairy bargains were hard and cold as the killing iron, growing nearer to biting them both with every un-quickened dawn.
The door opened, and Sable, the dark haired room mate wafted in, a vision of pale loveliness in black veiled mourning, a sorrow deep and bitter as absinthe hung about her like the echoes of loves dying scream. The prince looked from her to Scarlet and back as Scarlet spoke.
“My dearest friend, sister of my heart, Sable lost her fairy prince unknowing when her tongue piercing caused an unfortunate end of their love in fiery anguish”
The elven prince drew himself up in hauteur, for the death of another lord meant less than nothing to him. He had ended more of his own kind than could be named in a day of chanting.
“What has this to do with me, and our bargain?” He hissed, magic crackling about him as his anger rose.
Scarlet took the black veil that guarded Sables face, and lifted it to show the deep sorrowful eyes. With one lace gloved hand she brushed the tears from Sables pale cheeks and spoke softly.
“There is no surer way to get over one Elven lord, than to get under another one” Scarlet said taking the tear covered lace glove, and trailing it suggestively over the princes codpiece.
Opening a silk kerchief in ornate Romany adornment, Scarlet showed a gleaming surgical steel IUD, and tongue stud. As the fairy prince stood in stunned silence, Scarlet continued.
“Have you heard the mortal phrase ‘Double or Nothing’ my lord”
The fairy prince felt laughter burst within him, the audacity, the sheer mortal audacity of trapping him for the sole purpose of easing her beloved friends grief through love-play was so Byzantine it could have come from a Queen of Fairy, not a pair of goth girls from Trenton.
Two sets of arms pushed him back to the bed, and he set out to finish what had become indeed the hardest bargain he had made with humanity.
Somewhere before dawn, as scarlet and sable tresses fell across his pale chest, he realized that this world yet held wonders, even for one as ageless as him.
Scarlet accepted the potted black rose from the silver clad elfin lord who offered it with a superior smile.
“Our bargain is complete and binding, tea from this flower will keep the sun from ever marring your skin, nor will any disease ever bite upon you. In return, you will furnish me your first born child within its first moon”
Scarlet began unbuttoning the long dark Victorian boots that clad her long pale legs.
“Not quite correct on the word order. You have one moon to furnish me the first born child, that you can have custody of. Be a dear and help me with the corset, it takes forever to get unlaced.”
One elegant eyebrow of the alfar lord raised as he observed the cat like ears mounted on the tiara like hair ornament woven into her scarlet tresses. She had removed her boots and was reclining upon the bed, one dark stocking clad foot trailing up his leather riding trews with impudent impropriety.
“Surely you don’t mean me?” He asked with the lofty disdain of an immortal lord for a girl child of no more than a score and handful of seasons.
Reclining on one arm, displaying quite a lot of decolletage, Scarlet smiled wickedly.
“My roommate Sable is as fair a maid as I, surely you don’t expect her to get me with child? After all my lord, by your own will and words, our bargain is complete and binding.”
An almost catlike quality of malice and uncomplicated glee flashed in her eyes, and a smile tugged at his pale lips.
Trickery, lust, pride and whimsy were woven into the nature of fairy, and for an elven lord, lust and trickery together were enough to bring warmth to the blood of a pale prince who had seen nations rise and fall so often to have forgotten anything beyond momentary distraction.
Looking again at the mortal girl, this black clad scarlet tressed mortal girl, he felt challenged for the first time in centuries. Where challenge was met with subtle magic or flashing blade, it was an older and purer form of lance work she was demanding.
Smile lazily spreading across his face as blood across a fresh cut throat, he felt more than challenge rise within him. Fingers moving with inhuman grace and with more than mortal hunger, he worked first her laces, and then the oldest magic of them all.